Top 10 Routes to Run in Chicago
With it's eclectic soaring skyline and 18 miles of lakefront trails, Chicago is one of America's premier places to run. A great way to stay in shape while traveling, just pack your tank top, running shorts, and running shoes to experience the best views of Chicago.
With the Spring rains being quite mild this year in Chicago, it's a great time to explore the city. One of the best ways to take in the dynamic architecture and spectacular lakefront views is by foot, running or walking.
I was lucky enough to cheer on my friends at the annual Shamrock Shuffle 8K race in the heart of Chicago's downtown on March 25th, 2012 this year. It is considered the start of the running season in Chicago, and has become one of the most popular ways to celebrate everything that is great about this city. This year the 40,000 participant slots sold out within a month, a testament to the strong running culture in this vibrant metropolis. With TV shows and the onslaught of social media outlets like Facebook health & wellness is a hot topic. Dawn Statler from Bradley, IL, is a member of the Kankakee River Running Club, and says Facebook allows her to keep up on all the group runs and races the club promotes, as well as birthdays and other announcements.
Many participants felt tourists or businesspeople visiting Chicago would experience a special treat by running through the incredible neighborhoods. Unless your trip was planned to include exercise, traveling makes staying in shape difficult. Long hours sitting on planes, or waiting in terminals gives your belly a chance to grow beyond your belt. The unique “Midwestern hospitality” that Chicago is known for really comes through when running in groups or for big races like the Shamrock, says Carlos Max, a native of Guatamala. Carlos is a 39-year old Chicago resident, and will be running in his 9th Chicago Marathon this fall. He agrees people are so nice in Chicago, there's nothing you wouldn't love about running in the neighborhoods here. “People come from all over the world to run here.”, said Carlos.
The organizers of the Shamrock Shuffle & Chicago Marathon agree, “Each fall, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon brings runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to Chicago. While the marathon is the pinnacle of the running season in Chicago, we are proud to be a part of a vibrant year-round running community. With a lakefront jogging path that spans 18 uninterrupted miles along Lake Michigan, we have something that is unique to most other major cities. At its core, Chicago is a city of diverse neighborhoods and cultures, and there is no better way to experience it than to lace up a pair of shoes and to go for a run.”, says Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski.
Alicia Gonzalez, Executive Director of ChicagoRun, a non-profit group enabling running for youth in Chicago public schools, feels “Tourists flock to the known neighborhoods in Chicago: Downtown, Loop, Gold Coast. Chicago is so rich in history and culture, other neighborhoods to explore are Pilsen and Little Village, two Mexican neighborhoods, Bronzeville – an African American neighborhood, and even Austin, a neighborhood Martin Luther King marched through in the 1960's”. At the Shamrock Shuffle, Alicia's ChicagoRun group sponsored students from a variety of schools in the race. The kids were running together, some for the first time downtown, even though they were from different neighborhoods. “I believe running can be a great equalizer”, said Alicia. To learn more about how ChicagoRun promotes breaking through socio-economic barriers in Chicago neighborhoods through the universality of running, or to volunteer, visit http://www.chicagorun.org/.
(ChicagoRun volunteers cheering on their kid group at Mile 2 of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle)
Several Shamrock Shuffle runners felt running is one of the most cost-effective ways to get exercise. Mayi Marcus and her daughter Nicole have been running for almost 3 years now. The 2012 Shamrock Shuffle was their first 8K race downtown. Mayi's original running group in Naperville has seen an increase in participation because “It's a cheap way to exercise. You just need shoes, running clothes, and to be outside.” said Mayi. Carla Kupe-Arion from the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago, concurs, “Going to the races you see people from different walks of life. Being part of a big crowd, even running with a group along the lake, is really fun.”
Another bonus to exploring Chicago on foot is all the public art, says Julie Christo of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. A recent transplant from Washington DC, Julie says, “It's been an adventure moving here. Where I came from, the city was spread out. Here, you really get to see the diversity of neighborhoods with mass transit and on foot. My neighborhood is really active – I get to see what all my neighbors are doing, people out with their dogs, and just experience the cultures of so many different people.”
With Lakefront scenery, one of the most beautiful skylines of the world, and the mild Spring weather, be sure to pack your running shoes for your visit to Chicago.