Rock n Roll Chicago – 2014 Half Marathon

I’m a big sucker for all things running but that doesn’t include events that are hyped up without delivering on the promised race experience.  In the past, I’ve ran Rock N Roll events but always walked away feeling like RNR got more from me than I got from them.  So when friends were signing up to run this 2014 Rock n Roll Chicago, I was hesitant but ultimately decided to suck it up join the fun.

RNR header

First order of business, packet pick-up. RNR Chicago is one of the only events in the CHI that mandates each participant pick up their own packets. Normally not a problem for me but it was a huge problem this year. While I did manage to pick up my own packet and as a result was late to the closing on my new IN home, I did hear from a “top secret” source that RNR does in fact have race day packet pick-up. Too late for me but hopefully this info will help one of you!!

Race day started bright and early with the gun going off at 6:30 am. Some might complain about this early start but with a July race in Chicago, I’d start even earlier if it were an option! There were 20,000+ participants, 34 corrals. However, corral placement was apparently “optional” and runners just jumped in wherever they wanted without any intervention from officials. Normally this would cause a real “cluster” effect but not here. The corrals were all spaced apart by 2 minutes and there weren’t a ton of people in each corral. So when our corral hit the start line it kinda felt like we were at the front, preparing to race for the win. I had runners all around me who should have been back an additional 10+ corrals but it didn’t bottleneck. In fact, I was in awe most of the race at how much space I had to run and how well the unmonitored RNR corral system actually worked.

Hitting the Start!

RnR start

I will say that I’m not a runner who needs music. I may turn it on when things get slow, then proceed to sing and dance my way thru the ugly miles. However, I rarely have headphones so this is sometimes annoying to other runners. Sorry, all!  I kinda expected that a Rock n Roll race would deliver, well, some rock n roll!  Not so much. There were some bands on course but not as many as I expected.  And some of the bands were singing the blues, so to speak. I would have liked a bit more pep from some of them. Oh well, maybe next year?

As for the course, I liked it a lot.  It was open and on decent streets. Aid stations about every 1.5 miles. One GU station. One sponge station. We did run on the Lakefront path for a short jaunt but it wasn’t too crowded. We even ran thru the tunnel under McCormick place and they added strobe lights and made it a fun and not too dark atmosphere.



For all of you bling chasers, the medals were super cool. Here is the SUN 5K and the half marathon medals. Plus they added a SAT 5K option for additional bling and that 5K medal was slightly different (less ornate than the SUN version).


But for me, this race was about friends.  Here is a photo of Lisa (my BFF from way back), Rachel, Allison & I before the start.  Those two girls in the middle came to Chicago to run their VERY FIRST half marathon ever.  I didn’t want to miss that!  They killed it too!


Aby, me & Nicki at the finish.  We have ran so many races together over the last several years.  And thanks Nicki for never complaining about Aby coming along even when it means we can’t get into the beer garden.


So that’s a wrap for me.  I still think the race is overpriced compared to it’s Chicago counterparts.  I still think they should deliver more Rock n Roll.  However, it’s a great race on the streets of Chicago and well, you can’t put a price tag on making memories.

** Go Out and Make Your Own Memories ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **





19 thoughts on “Rock n Roll Chicago – 2014 Half Marathon

  1. I had a lot of friends running this one and the biggest complaint was the “boring” course. No music until about mile 6. Really?

    I’m running Zooma in 2 weeks (against my better judgement)–it was super expensive, even with a discount…it’s in Burnham Park (where do I park)…an all women race (sigh)…so we’ll have to compare notes. Mailing the packet was an option I chose easily!

    You definitely got the better bling!

    • I ran Zooma last year and there were some kinks in that race. However, they have been working extremely hard to make 2014 and amazing race. Can’t wait to hear about it. Enjoy!!

  2. Oh ya…I got comments about this race and I no longer run it since its Inaugural start after buying out John Bingham on his Chicago Distance Classic. That was an awesome race…and even when first year RnR1/2 took over…had a really nice and awesome post-race concert featuring Susan Tedeschi….and it was by far one of the best 1/2 marathon race events I experienced. I think I was there one more time later years and didn’t like it…way too big…way too much runner traffic and congestion…even the post-race concert plauged with replacements cause billed band had issues with member of band in ill health or something. Can’t control that and have to go with the flow…but I never had a good time there…and said never again. And…even at a Rock-n-Roll Marathon or 1/2 Marathon…bands playing at some point in the course is never going to give you much vibe or music energy….cause you just past by them in short-time and the sound fades away. Music in a run needs to come from your own player…not a band on a course. I have pulled off the mini headphones to catch a glimpse of what band is playing, but it is my own music that drives me in the race itself. But the after race concert….that’s far different. You finish your race…eventually go to the stage and listen and dance or whatever. Bands on a course…well good they get some pay to do it…not much there to motivate a runner….that race is your own and go elsewhere to seek energy to boost you. I don’t get a report on the concert post-finish…that’s where the beauty is! Hope I don’t get viewed as a “downer” on your blog site, but Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon…ain’t worth your time and money to run….unless…as at least one photo and some reference in discussion indicates….you running with a bunch of friends or run-group.

    • We couldn’t get into the post race party cuz Aby wasn’t 21. And I don’t even remember hearing a band playing afterwards. A real bummer on all accounts in my opinion.

  3. Besides the fact that there was an absence of music in the course, which I was incredibly bummed about, my running partner and I noticed a big discrepancy with the mileage in our Garmin compared to that of the course. It seemed like it was almost a mile off! Can that even be possible???? Did you notice this, too? By the way, it was cool to see you on the course–I was the one who said hi mile 12!

    • So fun seeing you on course!! Thanks for saying “Hi”.

      As for the mileage discrepancy, that will always happen on downtown races. The buildings and tunnel interfere with the signal but more importantly, the course is measured by the shortest point to point. So when they measure, they use the tangents so the course is certified legal for the front runners who aren’t weaving around other competitors. For you and I, we just run down the street and turn the corners when we can. We aren’t coming even close to running the tangents so we run a “few” extra steps. That being said, I had a much higher discrepancy than normal.

  4. Nice review! RnR races have the best start arrangement I’ve experienced in races. I agree with you that the multiple corrals avoid the crowded feeling so many races have at the start.

  5. I did RnR Philly a couple of years ago and I felt the same way about the lack of bands along the course. I mean, there’s only so much music you can hear as you run by, and I get that, but a peppy tune is always appreciated and it’s hard for bands to constantly be playing AWESOME songs, I guess. Maybe more cover bands is the solution? I don’t even know! The series is definitely pricey for what it boils down to.

  6. There are normally more and better bands at this race. I was thoroughly disappointed this year with the race.

  7. I’m not the biggest RNR cheerleader, but this race made me reconsider. Although I agree that there wasn’t enough Rock ‘n Roll in the actual race itself, it’s thus far the ONLY half marathon that actually runs through the heart of Chicago. All others are north or south of the city or use the free bike paths in their entirety. So really, while it IS expensive, you can see where the money goes.

    (I ran on Sunday too — post forthcoming!)

    • The Chicago Women’s Half changed their course and now goes through downtown Chicago (and on the Mag Mile). And despite the name, men can register. You’ll just get a very feminine race tank.

      • That is so true (and I’m insanely jealous of that) — BUT technically that one hasn’t happened yet. So as of this very moment, RNR is still the only half to do that.

      • I’d love to run the Women’s Half but never signed up with it being on Labor Day weekend. So glad that I didn’t now that I’m moving. But I still think it will be a great race!

  8. This was my 4th RnR Chicago and I was disappointed by the changes this year. I prefered the course they had for the past 3 years – no Lakefront Trail, didn’t go south of 31st St, and had less weaving through the Loop, but did go out west by Whitney Young HS. Also, the bands were much better in the past and there were more of them. And there was more misting water on the course, although I think it’s been hotter in past years. And they used to give out popsicles at the end (in additional to the usual water, gatorade, food, etc). But the corrals have always been good despite the lack of policiing. Although I always hated that everyone had to pick up their own packet. I had heard about the raceday pick up option, but that they don’t publicize it.

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