Photo by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash

Bank of America, which organizes the iconic Chicago Marathon, is bringing a smaller scale event to the part of Chicago it previously never passed through – the West Side.  

The inaugural Chicago 13.1 half-marathon race will start June 5 at 7 a.m. in Garfield Park, east of the intersection of Madison Street and Central Park Avenue. The course will extend north toward Humboldt Park, return south and into Douglass Park, turn back around and finish at Garfield Park. The name references how long the route is in miles.

The race was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but the pandemic delayed those plans. With the hospitalizations and deaths subsiding, the race organizers were eager to pick up where they left off, and the runners said they were glad that the West Side was getting some attention.

The Chicago Marathon has been running almost every year since 1977, except for 1987 and 2020. Bank of America has owned the race since 2008, when it acquired the previous owner, LaSalle Bank. The marathon’s course runs through the Loop and parts of the North and South sides, but it doesn’t have any presence on the West Side.  

Bank of America also operates the 8-kilometer-long Shamrock Shuffle, which runs entirely through the Loop. During its original announcement on Oct. 3, 2019, the bank said the Chicago 13.1 race is designed to “deepen Bank of America’s premier racing portfolio” and that, with a marathon and an 8K race already in place, the intermediate half-marathon was a logical next step.  

Paul Lambert, who headed the bank’s Chicago operations, described the race as an extension of his employer’s commitment to the city and a way to showcase a part of Chicago that doesn’t get much attention. 

“We’re excited to debut our newest distance event that will take runners on a tour of the city’s West Side, highlighting the dynamic neighborhoods and diversity that make our city one of the best in the world,” he stated. Alex Sawyer, the spokesperson for the race, said that “the vision for the event was to reimagine what running events can be [like] in Chicago.” She added that the bank is “honored to bring Chicago’s newest road race to the West Side.” 

Sawyer said that as part of their community outreach, they connected to several community organizations the race course will run through, including the Garfield Park Community Council, West Humboldt Park Development Council, Lawndale Christian Health Center, Breakthrough Urban Ministries and UCAN Chicago. They also worked with the Garfield Park Rite into Wellness collaborative.  

“Our conversations with these groups and stakeholders have focused on raising awareness, learning more about the community’s needs and how the half marathon could support their mission, and identifying opportunities to get involved,” Sawyer said. She added that Chicago 13.1 staff participated in several recent community events in order to “support and learn more about the communities along the course.” 

The race organizers also connected with Peace Runners 773, the West and East Garfield Park running group that has been doing runs and workouts in Garfield Park for the past two years.

Jackie Hoffman, the group’s founder, said that he and 14 other group members took part in this year’s Shamrock Shuffle, and they have been eagerly preparing for the Chicago 13.1 race. 

“It’s going a big thing for us and the organization to finally say, there’s the race coming to West Side of Chicago and Peace Runners[will be a part of it],” he said. “We have 12 people signed up for the half-marathon, and we’re talking about people who have never signed up for a half-marathon.” 

To find out more about the Chicago 13.1 race, and to register for it by June 3, visit chicago13point1.com.

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