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Running in... Chicago

A Runner's Guide to Chicago, by a Local Runner

In this episode of 'Running In...', Ryan takes us on a running (and eating!) tour of Chicago.

Chicago runner takes part in a marathon

Describe the running culture in Chicago in one sentence

To me, running in Chicago means community, grit, and lots of speed.

Take us through your three favourite 'local' training routes in Chicago

The Chicago Lakefront Trail

This is the obvious one for anyone that has visited Chicago. The trail, which spans a stunning 19 miles along Lake Michigan, features some of the best views of Chicago's magnificent skyline.

The North Pond & Nature Boardwalk

Adjacent to the Lakefront on the North side of Chicago is a stretch that is heaven for runners that enjoy urban parks. As a previous long-time resident of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, this was my go to route for quite some time.

The Chicago River

While the downtown Chicago Riverwalk gets all the acclaim (and rightfully so! it is beautiful and also a fun place to run), further on the Northside there is a beautiful stretch of river-front paths that offers a more low-key alternative to the oft-busy Lakefront path.

Are you a member of a local running club? Briefly describe your clubs culture/values including any involvement with the wider community

While I am not officially a member of any running clubs, I would love to use this space to shout out Chicago Run, a local non-profit organization that uses running as a tool for positive development of youth in our city. Chicago Run operates programming in the Chicago public school system, as well as other spaces such as the Juvenile Correctional Center and community-wide summer programs.

chicago run runner and volunteer at chicago fun run

Ryan representing Chicago Run at a local fun run

What is the best place to buy running gear in Chicago?

My favorite, local place to buy running gear in the city is Heartbreak Hill Running Company in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

Best Chicago race or races?

The Chicago Marathon

In one word, the Chicago Marathon is vibrant. The energy that you derive as a runner traversing through 29 neighborhoods is truly something special, and a wonderful celebration of our great, diverse city.

Shamrock Shuffle

The Shamrock Shuffle, which typically occurs in mid-March, marks the unofficial "start of the racing season" for many runners here in Chicago. It presents an opportunity to run the streets of the Chicago loop and nearby downtown neighborhoods amidst beautiful architecture and skyscrapers in our city of broad shoulders.

Run for the Zoo

The Run for the Zoo is far more of a low-key race than the two above, but is a personal favorite. The race, which features a 5k and a 10k, occurs on a pleasant early June morning, and features two of the best areas to run in the city: Lincoln Park and the Chicago Lakefront.

runner at smiling for the camera whilst running in chicago marathon

Ryan, taking on a soggy Chicago Marathon

Recommended local dish/venue to eat after a big run/race?

I am known to enjoy a large stack of pancakes after a long run. Unfortunately, my all-time favorite local breakfast joint has closed due to COVID-19. However, in a city with no shortage of great restaurants, I am a huge fan of Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe in the Streeterville neighborhood. It's certainly a plus that Wildberry is just a few blocks off the Lakefront Trail, a convenient option for a post-run carb refuel (and food coma)!

Of course I can not limit my food response to just one location/food group, as I equally enjoy post-run tacos in Little Village, pizza from Lou Malnati's, burgers and beers all across the city, and a steaming bowl of Pho in Little Vietnam for those icy Chicago winter days.

A huge thank you to Ryan for sparing time to take us on a running journey around Chicago.

If you are interested in sharing the running culture in your city or country, we'd love to hear from you. Just drop us a message!

One last thing...

COVID-19 has resulted in a severely reduced income for freelancers like me. If you've enjoyed the content on this site and would like to support me by buying me a coffee, I would greatly appreciate it.

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