Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon to run the half marathon distance to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
I had the opportunity at the end of April to run the half marathon distance at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon and it was a fabulous event and race! Everything from the expo and packet pickup through the race itself and ending with the post race party was on point. I ran the marathon distance back in 2018 and nothing has changed in that time when it comes to the seamless running of the race. If there is a race you should run just for the finely run machine that it is, it is the Illinois Marathon. The course is nice and simple, perfect for getting that PR you might be striving for (full disclosure: I did not hit a PR in this race, but it is definitely attainable.) The race management and the volunteer staff are top notch and you receive some nice swag with your registration.
Expo Quality: Really nice spacing of the vendor booths with other races promoting themselves, a CPR area, some racing gear vendors and then the official Illinois Marathon vendor area full of some pretty nice merchandise with the race logo on it. Packet pickup was extremely quick and smooth. I was checked in and had my shirt and bib in minutes. Very efficient.
I also had the great opportunity to meet up with a fellow BibRave Pro, Nicki, just as we were leaving the expo after grabbing our packets and perusing the vendors.
Parking/Access: Easy drive into the parking lot on race morning with no problem getting to the start line (and bathroom) before the race start. And at the end of the race and when I was done with the post race party, easy exit back to my hotel.
Course Scenery: It wasn’t as nice as it was in 2018 but that’s because they had to alter the course due to a lack of volunteers and construction going on around the University of Illinois campus so that effected it a little bit. But, how can you not like a race that has you finishing while you cross the 50-yard line of a major college football stadium. It’s awesome! And when you get that PR, don’t forget to ring the heck out of the PR bell that is provided for all runners.
Elevation Difficulty: Minimal and that’s why it makes for a great course to get your PR. There are some minor hills on some of the course but nothing that will kill your racing mojo. Pretty flat for a huge part of it.
Aid Stations: Well stocked and well serviced by volunteers. Plenty of water to grab and on several of the tables, Nuun hydration to replenish the body as you chugged along the course. My only complaint was that the volunteers were doing too good of a job by filling the cups a little too high with water. The first two stations had me inhaling water up my nose as I was running and drinking at the same time.
Also, a fun moment during the race when I saw another fellow BibRave Pro, Lina, running ahead of me. I turned on some jets so I could catch up to her and ran a few miles with her; she was wise and steady-armed enough to grab a selfie of the both of us in motion!
Race Management: EXCELLENT! Constant updates from several months out all the way to the morning of race day. And the last few days they were not shy about sending out info in case of bad weather (which was in the forecast) and about where to go if necessary. Also, what other race do you see the race director get involved with runner directional control? Jan Seeley was out directing runners where to go on certain turns. That’s how much she loves this race and being in charge of how well it is run.
T-Shirts/Swag: An awesome soft cotton t-shirt representing this year’s race and 2020, which was when the cancellations began; a pretty sweet finisher’s medal, a nice nylon string bag that was used as your gear check back but will get many more uses down the road.
Bottom line, choose this race as a destination race if you’re looking for a spring race. You won’t be disappointed and I guarantee you’ll have a good time! and don’t forget the post race party! Tons of food options from pizza to chocolate milk to bananas, Kind bars, rolls, the list goes on and on. And then you go outside and get your free beer where you can also purchase food truck food if you like and get a free quick massage if you like.