Chicago Start Time Shake-Up

Last week I got a participant email from the Chicago Marathon.  I LOVE getting participant emails from races.  It feels like I’m receiving a super secret message from the cool kids club, or my Hogwarts acceptance letter!

Turns out this email was completely irrelevant to me, but it really made a whole lot of other people pretty mad.

Last year (and I’m assuming many years before that) the Chicago Marathon was set up with the Elite division starting first, corrals A-D (that you have to qualify for) starting next at 7:30, and everyone else starting in a giant mass after that, presumably through the start line by about 8:00.   Aaron was placed in Corral B and I was placed in Corral C based on our recent half marathon results.

But, they are shaking things up this year.

The email said that corrals A-D would stay the same with a 7:30 start time.  Corral E will consist of all charity runners and would start right after A-D.  Then, at 8:00, the rest of the participants would start in corrals based on estimated finish time with everyone through probably around 8:15-8:20.

As mentioned before, this doesn’t affect me at all, but the most common arguments are that the slowest runners will be finishing even later into the afternoon.  Also, the fastest of the mass finishers will be starting BEHIND the charity runners who may be running/walking much slower.

I think having to start a 6 hour marathon at maybe as late as 8:30 would be pretty annoying.  I’m even slightly annoyed that the marathon starts for me at 7:30 (though Boston starts at like, 10:30).  We’ve been starting our long runs between 6:30 and 7:00, ending after 9.  By 9:00, it is miserably hot.  Chicago weather in October seems to be a toss up, but apparently the last 4 out of 5 years have been really warm.  (However, one of those 5 years it was 30 degrees).

I can understand the frustration.

We’ve been training in the mid-morning heat, mostly because of laziness, but also a little bit because regardless of start time, I will be running my hardest miles well past 10:00 am.  I’d rather be miserable now and be prepared for whatever weather conditions get thrown my way then run comfortably now and not be able to handle the heat come October.  And if it is one of those freezing years, I will have trained at much worse conditions.

Is the new start time a bummer for some people? Absolutely.  But it isn’t anything a little extra preparation now can’t fix.


And because I haven’t done any Olympic updates yet…

Friday I came home to fish and chips and Boddington’s! I don’t think it helped our run at all on Saturday, but it sure was yummy.  (Sidenote…apparently the gluten free topic came up on a #fitfluential twitter chat yesterday…I don’t participate in #fitfluential, but it  looks like a lot of true Celiac people don’t appreciate non-Celiac people making their diet a trend since for them it isn’t a choice.  It was kind of weird).

Overall I did like the Opening Ceremony, but I think it should have been shorter with more smooth transitions.  It felt like 4 completely separate acts.  I LOVED the Bond skit, and of course Rowen Atkinson, but some parts, like the giant baby were kind of weird.  The Cauldron was incredible, even if no one in London could see it.

One thing I forgot to mention last week was that two Saint Mary’s basketball players are on the Australian Basketball team! So now I guess I’m cheering for them a bit too!

Happy Tuesday!

19 thoughts on “Chicago Start Time Shake-Up

  1. I’ve been enjoying the Olympics but thought the opening ceremony was a little weird with the green grass on a gigantic hill. I loved the sequence with Mary Poppins and all the other pop culture and music references but I couldn’t get past the hill and it looked like a giant green screen behind the one guy speaking at the podium (probably a very important person and I have no idea who he is!), and the baby was definitely really odd, almost freaky!

    Gymnastics and swimming have been the two sports I’ve been paying attention to right now. Was crushed that the guys gymnastics team came in 5th all around last night, but they had some pretty bad moments on the pommel horse. Ah, the Olympics! 🙂

    • It was pretty heartbreaking when the men’s gymnastic team lost. I was also sad to see Jordyn Weiber lose. I thought she handled herself very well, but she was very obviously crushed. The guy behind the podium was Sir Kenneth Branagh who did all the Shakespeare movies in the 90’s, but we thought it was Ewan McGregor until Matt Lauer corrected us! Oops.

  2. I hate to sound like an elitist snob, but if people are needing six hours to complete a marathon, they’re basically walking it and they shouldn’t be accommodated as much as people actually racing the race. If you’re trying to weave past people, it’s a disaster. I ran the SF Marathon as a “charity chaser” in 2011 where I started dead last and the race helped me collect pledges for each person I passed. That race has waaaay fewer people running in the full marathon and it took me about 18 miles to find some space. By that point, I was completely spent from the starting and stopping and weaving.

    At the core of it all, the Chicago Marathon is a race, and the people who need the space are fast enough to get into the A-D corrals. Those who aren’t … well, they’re really participating in the marathon to complete it and weather just kind of comes with the territory.

    OK, done being an elitist snob. Sorry!

    • Haha! I think my husband’s exact words were, if it takes someone until 2:00 to finish the marathon, they should be running faster. Obviously he’s joking a bit, and there will be circumstances where maybe people get injured and have to walk or are 9 months pregnant and about to give birth, but I agree that most people finishing in 6 hours should be prepared for hotter mid-day weather. I kind of feel weird saying anything because it really doesn’t affect me at all, but someone on the facebook page said that if you are running a 6 hour marathon, starting an extra half hour late won’t really make or break you…he got bashed and called insensitive. Maybe if I was in that category, I’d be a bit upset also, but I the temperature difference between 1:30 and 2:00 really isn’t all that big.

  3. Ha! Yes, that giant baby was a little creepy… 🙂 It’s been fun catching bits of the Olympics every day.
    Bummer about the late time start- it makes sense to have the faster people up front so no one is getting trampled on, but would make more sense if everyone’s time was earlier.

    • That seems to be the consensus! I’m not familiar with the course or the congestion, but it sounds like they were ushering people through too fast causing some overcrowding, so to alleviate that, they are spreading people out more. They sent the email maybe last Thursday and I haven’t heard them respond to the backlash yet.

  4. I think the start time for New York is at 10am or something, its late from what I hear…the best part is the bus will get me to the starting area at about 7:30…FUN!

    As for celiac’s trying to hold onto something unique about their ailment (?), that is so ridiculous!
    Me: Umm can I have the gluten free pizza please
    Celiac : Hey man, show me your celiac card! You’re not part of the club, you can’t eat our food!
    Me: Make that two gluten free pizzas.

    Plus, if “their” diet becomes a trend, wouldn’t that give them more options in the grocery store and at a restaurant? Some people…

    • Wow. That should be an exciting 3 hour wait for you!

      And seeing some stuff come through on twitter about gluten free was really bizarre. I wasn’t part of the chat, so I didn’t really see what prompted it, but a lot of people were saying that there is a big difference between not wanting to eat something and not being able to eat it, usually emphasized by words in all cap letters. It was just a weird attitude on my twitter feed! As people who are not really seriously needing to give up gluten (as evidenced by our fish/chips/beer celebration), it almost felt like we were being accused of not really understanding what they’re going through. I don’t know. I suppose I could be completely misinterpreting.

      • I am not belittling their pain, I know more than a handful of people that have gluten allergies and they hate their diet restrictions. One of them was diagnosed with Celiacs about 5 years ago and he is so happy that companies are making products that don’t torture his stomach, especially beer! Anyway, is Mr. Lavender Irish by chance? Everybody I know that has gluten allergies is of Irish decent, it is strange.

  5. I went to school in near Chicago and had the chance to help out with the marathon back in the day. I could never understand why the start time wasn’t earlier, especially with how crazy Chicago’s weather can be in October.

    I love your tribute dinner to England and the Olympics. We’ve been trying to take it all in–we even sat through dressage (sp?) because we were too worried that if we changed the channel we would miss something exciting. :-p

    • Exactly! Even though I think we are going forward 2 time zones, I’d be ok starting at 7:00 or even 6:30. Watching the Olympics has been overwhelming! The other day we had our TV on and both our iPads broadcasting different events. I started to mix them all up. It has been much harder keeping up during the week.

  6. I understand the frustration of having some participants who will take longer to finish start later, but it would be much worse to have the slower group start at 7:30 and then have the faster runners attempt to weave through them during the race. Talk about a mess!

  7. Glad to see you are enjoying the Olympic Games. I think the Opening Ceremony was very English to the extent that some parts seemed random especially to foreigners…but I think you have to give in Danny Boyle. It was spectacular. My only real bug bear was Paul McCartney – yeah he is a great musician to come out of Britian, but it is really necessary to have him sing an irrelevant song at the end of each big event (I also feel he ruined the mood of Queens Jubilee Concert). Rant over 🙂

    • Haha! I do like Paul McCartney, but I didn’t think he sounded very good. He needed to warm up a bit more! And his closing song did seem a bit out of place. And I agree…the song choice was completely irrelevant to the occasion!

  8. My sister has celiac disease. I find that as this choice to be gluten free trend grows, there seems to be more restaurants catering to that “diet”. As long as there is power in numbers and helps develop change, I’m good with it. It’s frustrating to go to restaurants and not be able to have a gluten free menu because then she has to resort to ordering a salad or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with a salad but it’s nice to have options. We’ve been to a couple of restaurants that weren’t sensitive to her dietary restrictions and so I have never dine at that restaurant again!

    • I know! Poor Aaron is getting a little sick of salad I think. We are having a hard time finding other options at restaurants. I don’t think it has caught on as much here yet.

  9. The crazy crowds are the reason I vowed to not ever run Chicago again after running it in 2009. (Although I vowed to never run it again in 2007 after the whole running out of water incident and ended up running in 2009 anyway, so I should never say never 🙂 ). But this start-time decision will, in my opinion, make things much worse. You are very fortunate to have a preferred corral or you could count on running shoulder-to-shoulder for at least five miles. It’s THAT bad! They should have never expanded the field from 30,000 to 45,000.

    • I can’t believe a marathon like Chicago would run out of water! I guess the “wave” start was initiated in order to really spread people out, but everyone is overwhelmingly upset because of the later start time. But it does seem like the non-preferred corrals were really assigned half hazardly. I haven’t seen any response from the marathon to the controversy. I am truly grateful that hopefully none of this will affect me, but I also think that a participant is a participant, and everyone should have a good experience regardless of their projected finish time!

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