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New Bank of America Chicago 13.1 In June

Registering for the 2020 Shamrock Shuffle (the unofficial start of the 2020 Chicago running season) this morning, I was surprised to see a new option to sign up for the “Bank of America Chicago 13.1” as well.

Well, it turns out that a few days ago this new race was announced. The 2020 Bank of America Chicago 13.1 will be held June 7, 2020. The entry fee is $95 and will increase to $115.

Unlike the Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon, however, this race will not use the Grant Park starting point. Instead, it will start in Near West’s Union Park and focus on running through the West Side of the city.

My Thoughts On This New Race

I’m torn. On the one hand, I fully support have a big-name, West Side race. I’ve previously worked at a non-profit in the West Side and I have an appreciation for efforts to reach out to that part of the city.

It’s important not just to get runners to see a part of the city they may have been avoiding, but to bring a major running event to an underserved community. It’s an awesome feeling, being able to run through your neighborhood, with friends and family supporting you, on one of the biggest races of the year.

But I don’t love that Bank of America is behind this. They do a phenomenal job on both the Chicago Marathon and the Shamrock Shuffle, which are consistently two of the best-managed races I run. It’s not that.

Rather, it’s that I appreciate having smaller organizers anchoring the middle of the race season. Even though I don’t love all of these organizers, having competition is good for runners who want different courses, different freebies, and different prices.

Bank of America still has to compete with the other races, to be clear, but they also have the two largest expos of the year and two of the largest races of the year to market their 13.1. Indeed, I found out about this option while registering for the Shamrock Shuffle. They’ll also probably have the coveted Nike sponsorship.

It’s not as if adding one 13.1 is going to be the death knell of any organizer, but the pressure is surely going to be on half marathon organizers.