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Looks Like a Strong Start for the New Chicagoland Half Marathon Series

As you may have heard, this year Life Time Athletic Events and Michelob Ultra 13.1 Marathon Chicago have combined three of Chicago's most popular half marathons (the Chicago Spring Half Marathon in May, the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Marathon in June and the Chicago Half Marathon in September) to create the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series.

Notably, the Chicago Spring Half - the first event in this new series has been selling entries a lot faster than usual. In fact it's almost reached capacity already; the 10K sold out last week and the half marathon has less than 250 slots left as of this writing (last week Life Time sent out an email announcing less than 350 slots left). I took a few minutes today to catch up with Chicago Office Director for Life Time Athletic Events Matt Swartz to talk about this upcoming race. When I asked him about the surge in popularity for this race, Swartz said it's been a welcome surprise.


"This will be the first year that it will sell out," he noted. "It's kind of surprising because we've never sold out before and now we're selling out a few months beforehand." He has a theory about why this race is so popular this year: "People were staying indoors and staying warm throughout this hard winter and they really need something to look forward to in the spring." And the Chicago Spring Half is a race that Swartz has always looked forward to himself. "It's my favorite event weekend in the year," he says. "It's the one that really kicks everything off and you can see who really trained over the winter."

The start of spring and the especially hard winter might be deciding factors that improved registrations this year but after running the Chicago Spring Half for the last two years myself (okay, I only ran the 10K last year), I think the elaborate post-race picnic might have something to do with it. Swartz agrees. "The race is only as good as the celebration afterwards," he says, laughing. "That's why we have Goose Island." (Goose Island Catering handles the post-race picnic).

But Life Time won't just be coasting on the past success of this race - they're looking to expand and improve as well, especially since the race size will be growing so much this year. "We're going to be introducing a corralling system at the start line," says Swartz. "Since it does run on the Lakefront Trail we're going to be releasing corrals in a timed way and making sure things stay spaced out so runners can still have the space on the course that they're used to - it's never been an issue in the past and we want to maintain that." They're also hoping that they can time race starts appropriately so that the winner of the 10K is racing the winner of the half to the finish line.*

There's also going to be more entertainment. "We want to expand on the entertainment aspect," Swartz explains. "We're going to bring the jazz and the blues of Chicago out onto the course." Because of the route the course follows and because it takes place so early (start time for the half is 7am), Swartz knows they still need to be cognizant of those that live along the course, adding "We want to bring a little more sound to the course without waking up the whole community!"

The way race registration is going so far, it seems like the community is already waking up to this race.

The Chicago Spring Half is May 18th and there are less than 250 slots left. 

You can register on the race website: www.chicagospringhalf.com

I'll be checking back in with Swartz along the way to see how this new half marathon series is progressing. Check back later for more info!

*Side note: last year the winner of the half beat me by about 20 seconds... too bad I was only running the 10K...

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