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Chicago half-marathon finishers outraged that race was one kilometre short

Race organizers claimed they had to change the course at the last minute for safety reasons, and didn't tell participants

Photo by: HOKA Chicago Half Marathon

Thousands of runners seemed to run personal bests at the 2022 HOKA Chicago Half Marathon last Sunday, but it turns out that they didn’t actually run the half-marathon distance, as the race was found to be one kilometre short. Many runners took to the event’s social media page, commenting that their Strava uploads were well short of the 21.1 km distance, which is when organizers admitted the course was short.

Photo: HOKA Chicago Half Marathon/Facebook

One runner wrote: “It was a great race, but I was about a half mile short?!? I feel the turnaround was too soon. I knew something was up when I passed the nine-mile marker, and I was only at 8.5…my GPS had matched up perfectly with the markers until then.”

Another runner commented: “Everybody I know who did this race on my Strava got 12.64 miles. [Were] things a tad short today?”

Other runners started replying to the messages, voicing their frustration with the lack of communication from the race.

Organizers replied by saying the runners were correct. “Our primary goal always is to deliver a safe and positive experience for all participants. A last-minute course change was implemented due to unforeseen circumstances in partnership with the city of Chicago. The impact of this change was a reduction in the overall course distance. We apologize for any inconvenience as we chose to prioritize athlete safety.”

A runner circles the differences between their GPS app and the half-marathon course map. Photo: Khoa A. Dao/Facebook

Many runners were outraged and demanded refunds. “You chose to keep athletes in the dark and hoped no one would notice,” one runner wrote. “We paid for a half-marathon, not 12.6 miles.”

Matthew Baxter of New Zealand, who trains with NAZ Elite in Flagstaff, Ariz., won the race in 1:01:54. “I came to Chicago to get in a marathon effort run and the win,” said Baxter on his Instagram. “Unfortunately, the course was short, so my finishing time was not accurate.”

The HOKA Chicago Half Marathon is unaffiliated with the upcoming Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9, or with the Bank of America 13.1.

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