Chicago half-marathon shortened by a half mile, angering runners

Khoa Dao completed a half-marathon Sunday alongside Chicago’s lakefront feeling elated, crossing the end line seemingly quarter-hour sooner than his earlier personal report. He celebrated and took some selfies.

“I felt like king of the world,” he mentioned.

But later within the day, Dao’s enthusiasm was punctured when he discovered the 13.1-mile HOKA One One Chicago Half Marathon was really about 12.6 miles.

Organizers of the race, which began in Jackson Park and attracted hundreds of runners, modified the course “just prior to the start of the event” after being directed to take action by the town of Chicago, in keeping with an e-mail despatched to runners two days after the race.

In a assertion despatched to the Tribune, race organizers apologized for the mishap and mentioned they’re planning to supply runners discounted entry on a future occasion of their alternative.

“Given the last-minute timing of this change, options were extremely limited to properly inform all event participants prior to the start of the event,” the assertion mentioned. “We apologize to all participants for the lack of advance notice of this change.”

The course change angered runners, a few of whom had traveled to Chicago to take part. Some had hoped to attain a personal report, or use the race to qualify for different occasions. Others had merely aimed to complete their first half-marathon.

Dao didn’t end the race fairly as quick as he initially thought — however it might have been a personal report if the race was the proper distance.

Runners questioned why the course change wasn’t communicated to them, maybe by way of a loudspeaker, and requested why race officers didn’t have a backup plan, or couldn’t implement a half-mile detour. A Facebook submit on the occasion’s web page generated a whole lot of feedback.

“People pay a lot of money … to run these races,” Stephanie Tsai, a Chicago runner who participated within the occasion, instructed the Tribune.

The route change was requested to “ensure the safety of race participants due to a conflict with vehicles around 31st Street,” a metropolis spokesperson mentioned in a assertion. The challenge stemmed from site visitors circulate round Soldier Field.

While operating, Tsai knew one thing was amiss as a result of the mileage on her GPS watch didn’t match up with the signposts on the course. She had been operating on tempo for a report.

Tim Bradley, interim government director on the Chicago Area Runners Association, mentioned the last-minute transfer to shorten the course was uncommon for such a massive race.

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“It’s not very common. It’s very unfortunate and disappointing when it does happen,” he mentioned, noting it generally occurs throughout smaller races.

Crystal Rosales, like Tsai, thought one thing was off when her watch mileage didn’t match up with the route. Sometimes throughout massive races, although, GPS monitoring doesn’t work as nicely.

But as quickly as she crossed the end line, she joined teams of different puzzled runners taking a look at their watches and noting the scarcity.

“Everybody was asking the same questions,” she mentioned. “Everyone was kind of wondering what was going on.”

Race organizers later modified the official outcomes to replicate that the race was 12.6 miles.

“I was disappointed,” Rosales mentioned, noting that she has beforehand run different races. “I was also disappointed for the first-timers … a half-marathon is a huge distance.”

mabuckley@chicagotribune.com

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