Chicago Half Marathon 2023: 10,000 participate in South Side race, all for different reasons

Chicago Half Marathon route took runners up DuSable Lake Shore Drive

Christian Piekos Image
Sunday, September 24, 2023
10,000 participate in Chicago Half Marathon, all for different reasons
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The Life Time Half Marathon began Sunday in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side. Some street closures were in place.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The 26th Life Time Chicago Half Marathon took off to the sound of an airhorn blast Sunday morning in a sun-soaked Jackson Park.

"The vibes are great. The energy is pumped up. We're here, so let's do this thing," said Merin Smith, who ran the half marathon.

Plenty of runners were out early Sunday, gearing up for the 13.1-mile run.

But, it's not just a half marathon.

A 5K also kicked off at 7:45 a.m., and, for the first time, a kids' race began at 10 a.m.

Organizers said a child as young as 2 was expected to participate.

RELATED: Mom finishes Chicago Marathon after training helped reveal breast cancer diagnosis

The races sold out, according to organizers.

"It's a party basically. Let's be honest," said Sarah Hawley, who ran the half marathon.

The half marathon route took runners right up DuSable Lake Shore Drive, as far north as just about McCormick Place and back.

Multiple road closures started at 6 a.m. Those in the area were asked to plan accordingly.

Ten thousand runners from all over the world were expected to participate in Sunday's race, including a 90-year-old and several teens, organizers said.

"I think older people can do anything, and I just like to keep active, and you're never too old to get out there and run," 90-year-old North Carolina woman Dot Sowerby said.

Many have been training for months, and shimmering gold medals were on-hand for some.

The half marathon race started at 7 a.m., and an Indianapolis man finished first.

Jordan Koczenasz said he normally runs 5Ks, but tried his first half marathon Sunday and wanted to win.

"My plan was to come out here and win it," he said.

Whitney Hirano of Mattoon, Illinois was the first female runner to cross the finish line for the half marathon.

"It felt great. Honestly, I just had a baby in December, and I've just been trying to get back into it, so this was a surprise for me. I'm really happy with it," Hirano said.

Everyone had a different reason to run.

Some were bouncing back from injuries.

"Finished pretty fast, I'm getting back into the race, get back to running. I've been injured for a little bit, so it feels good," said Brendan Gilbert, a 5K finisher.

Others were simply competing with siblings.

"It felt pretty good because at the last second I got in front of him," said 9-year-old Maximus Galeno, a 5K finisher.

The street closures included:

- Cornell Avenue from East Hayes Avenue to East Marquette Avenue

- East Marquette from South Stony Island Avenue to Cornell

- East Marquette from Cornell to DuSable Lake Shore Drive

- Northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive from East Marquette to MC7th (McCormick Bridge) until 10 a.m.

- Southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive from East Marquette to 31st Street (6:30-11:30 a.m.)

- East 47th Street from DuSable Lake Shore Drive to Cornell until 10:45 a.m.

- East 57th Street From DuSable Lake Shore Drive to parking lot until 11 a.m.

- DuSable Lake Shore Drive will have rolling openings beginning at 10 a.m.