Race Recap: March Madness Half Marathon


I honestly can’t remember the last time in my adult life that I didn’t toe the line of the March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, IL. It offers quite literally everything you can think of. Having run the 2022 race, here’s what I think stands out:

  1. You have a 50/50 shot at having the most gorgeous weather. The middle of March in the Chicagoland area can most definitely offer a blanket of snow on the ground. But this year athletes were welcomed with temps in the mid 30’s at the starting line, not a lick of wind, and a plethora of sunshine. And by the time you finished the race, the temps were well into the upper 40’s. If that doesn’t scream “running weather” I don’t know what else does.
  2. The terrain is nothing to shake a stick at, especially in the Midwest. The course offers a variety of rather aggressive hills, amazing downhill sections, and some pretty gnarly flats as well. The first 2+ miles take you very gradually downhill. It’s pretty easy to get carried away in the beginning, considering the adrenaline is pumping and you’re soaking up the amazing running weather. But the hills come to greet you at mile 5, and they never truly stop until the finish line. Names like “Sneaky Hill” and “Lung Buster Hill” are posted at the bottom of the respected hills and their names ring true.
  3. If you’re training to run the Boston Marathon in April, this race is a great tune up for the hills of the Boston. Athletes from all over the Chicagoland area use this race as a checkpoint to see where their fitness stands as they prepare to run Boston. I mean, “10 Mile Hill” could quite literally be the ugly step sister to Heartbreak Hill. Am I right?
  4. An amazing race director and volunteers. The event is put on by The Hillstriders Running Club and each and every year they completely blow my mind. Packet pickup is a breeze, the start and finish line are never chaotic and are always properly managed. Aid stations are never lacking and have the best volunteers. And having run this race year after year, I’ve grown to know all the faces that work the event every year. And at this point, I can’t imagine what it would be like to race and not see the same faces at every familiar corner.


  1. Megan thanks for your thoughts.
    I agree with you.
    I have run over 40 Cary Half Marathons as I have run 42 Bostons.
    It is epic and what racing used to be……… Running!
    Simple and basic. Great people of all abilities.

    The current course is outstanding but the original course was even better which featured over a half mile of continuous roller coaster hills around the dreaded Silver Lake area.
    If you are running Boston, Cary is a MUST.

    The weather is normally tougher than the course. One year the lead vehicle was a snowplow!!!
    Another year, the weather was perfect as it was last Sunday, some runners requested that the race be postponed by one week because the weather was too nice!!!

    Lastly, how about 6 or 7 years ago when a deer was crossing the road and kicked a runner, causing an injury.

    Thanks to the hard working volunteers and club members who keep this classic race a classic race!

    I am hoping maybe they might change the course and add a few more hills.
    See you next March.

    Coach Mark Buciak

    Founder & Program Director, THE ROAD TO BOSTON Training Program
    Vice-President, Boston Quarter Century Club: QCC


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