This race was held on Saturday, June 7 at 7am at the South Shore Cultural Center, with a new sponsor (last year was Allstate, this year it was Michelob Ultra). Packet pick-up was held on Thursday and Friday at Fleet Feet Chicago Old Town – which was an easy/quick process. You were able to pick up another person's packet if you had a copy of their photo ID. Will Call (race day packet pickup that needed to be chosen when registering) was also available for $25.
As far as parking, you could park at the Museum of Science and Industry or the Millennium Park Garages and take a shuttle (read: school bus) to the race start. Despite the race guide saying parking at MSI was $16, it was actually $20. Spectators could purchase a shuttle ticket for $10, race participants were free (part of race fee) and just needed to have your bib on.
Race day was well organized with plenty of corrals/wave starts, with about 2 minutes between each one. The course is nice because unlike most races in the city, it isn't entirely on the Lakefront path. You run a bit on the street (which is partially blocked off with cones, but still has traffic – I didn't find this to be an issue), and go through/around Jackson Park before hitting up the path a little after mile 4.
Besides having run this race previously, I ran it this year as the second race in the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series. Once finishing the Chicago Half in September, you would receive a special medal for completing 39.3 miles (or 26.2 if you only completed 2 – the second race had to be the Chicago Half, and the first race could either be (or both) the Chicago Spring Half and the 13.1 Chicago Half).
Things I liked about this race:
• Easy packet pickup
• Dry-tech shirt
• Shuttles to bring you from parking to the start and then back
• Plenty of Aid stations with water and gatorade (I think there were 8?)
• Clif Shots around mile 6/9
• The first 4 or so miles that aren't on the Lakefront Path is a nice change
• Post-race party included Lou Malnati's pizza
• Bands/bagpipers for on course entertainment
• Friendly and enthusiastic volunteers
• Being a slower runner it's always great when there is still plenty of goodies at the finish (fruit cups, gatorade, water, pizza, beer)
• Misting/fan station on the post-race party grounds
• Band at the post-race party
Things I didn't like about this race:
• The cost of photos ($20 per photo for download or $10 per photo for a 4x6, and no deals to buy a CD of all photos)
• I wasn't impressed by the medal. Though it was a beer opener, which is fun, the design wasn't anything special
• The fact that the parking cost was advertised at $16 at MSI, and then being told that was inaccurate
• Lack of shade once on the Lakefront Path (it's always a pretty warm race day, and the sun beating down on your for about 9 miles is tough), though that's the downside of the LFP and I knew heading into it
For more details, check out my recap here: http://heatherrunsthirteenpointone.blogspot.com/2014/09/131-chicago-half-marathon.html
* Photo of medals from http://www.131marathon.com