Shamrock Shuffle (8km) 2022 race report

The Shamrock Shuffle is a very popular 8km race in Chicago. This post will give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to run the race. The key takeaway: It’s a fun race, I highly recommend it.

shamrock shuffle t shirt and hat

There’s something to be said for going out to run big races that are NOT marathons. If you fly or drive to a town to run a marathon the 24-36 hours leading up to the race you find yourself constantly wondering did I walk to much? am I drinking enough water? too much water? meals are carefully selected to provide the calories you need without upsetting your digestive system. You lay out all your gear ahead of time to be sure you haven’t forgotten the tiniest detail and you are usually in bed by 9! The Shamrock Shuffle gives you a lot of that big marathon experience without all that added stress. You can go out and eat deep dish pizza or cannolis the night before along with your beverage of choice and all you need to do is get to the start by 8 ish to get into your corral.

The Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago may only be an 8 km race but with 16,000 runners to organize, the pre-race experience is reminiscent of a major marathon. My friend Christopher was picking up a bib for feelow Seattle Greenlake runner Molly, a Shamrock Shuffle regular. So we walked to the race with her and she summed it up perfectly “All the fun and energy of the Chicago Marathon without the pesky 20 miles in the middle.” Both races you’ll see random reminders of the race around town. Both races have the same sponsor, Bank of America. Both races start beside the fountain in Grant Park, with corrals lining up on the same stretch of road with that stunning view of the Chicago skyline from the start corral.

Shamrock Shuffle start line

The two races also follow the same route for the first mile, and both races finish with the infamous hill on Roosevelt 🙂

Shamrock SHuffle route vs Chicago marathon route

The race is extremely well organized with an impressive number of volunteers taking care of packet pick-up, t-shirt pick-up, t-shirt exchange, info desks, gear check, managing start corrals, and all the other details that go into a great race. They even have a small store beside the t-shirt pick up where you can buy branded race gear.

shamrock shuffle waiting to start

At marathons and half marathons it’s rare to see people wearing their race shirts on race day. But this race is all about green! The majority of runners are sporting their emerald green race shirts. I had not realized what a faux pas I had committed by wearing my usual out of country red Canada t-shirt. Even the race announcers at one point were making jokes about the sea of green and the 5 people wearing red. At least, I was wearing the green race hat and bandana.

I was worried with only two aid stations and not much opportunity for runners to spread out over 8 km that it would be difficult to get hydration. I was happy to see the tables were well spread out and were set up on both sides of the road so it wasn’t difficult to get water or Gatorade at either of the two aid stations located at mile 1.6 and 3.6. Now to be fair, it wasn’t particularly hot today, that may have reduced demand, also it’s 8 km, so not all runners will bother hydrating (I didn’t) .

One other important thing to mention in any race report! The port-a-potty situation! There were port-a-potties at both aid stations and in ample supply at the start/finish area. We actually found port-a-potties with no line up on our way from gear check to our corral

Shamrock Shuffle runners

The race was generally a lot of fun! if you want to go fast, there are plenty of people running fast, but if you want a PB you need to be right at the front of a corral. They pause between corrals, so that provides an opportunity for those trying to go fast to avoid getting caught behind other runners in that first mile before runners start to spread out. You will likely post a faster time at the front of a later corral than at the back of a faster corral. Remember the race is only 5 miles, so if you struggling to find space to pass people for a mile that’s 20% of the race!

Of course, you don’t have to go all out! This is a great race to just jog and enjoy yourself. Regardless of your pace, you will be surrounded by runners the entire race. There are also options for family or friends who aren’t runners to dip a toe in the green water (side note: green water in Chicago around St Patrick’s day is a thing.) There were plenty of people walking the 8 km, and there was a 1 mile race and a 2 mile walk.

Of course there were lots of runners who took green to the next level with costumes and accessories. The most famous among them is “The Green crew.” The Green Crew are such a staple of the race that they have one of those photo ops with cutouts set up in near bib pick up. I took a quick pic after I picked up my race packed and was thrilled to meet two members of the actual Green Crew at the finish line for the live version of the same photo op 🙂

Like any big race you have the option of buying race photos, but like any big race, if you want to get good race photos you will need to keep an eye out for the photographers and make sure you get in front of that lens! I will say the red shirt made it easy to figure out where I was in the group shots! At $24.95 for a single print, I didn’t feel the need to purchase an official download. But maybe I’ll talk to Molly and Christopher and see if they want to split the cost of buying 1-3 prints, since we have several with all three of us in the shot and it passes the Marie Kondo test, the photo will bring me joy.

So if you are looking for a race that’s got big fun without the big miles, get your green on and head out to Chicago! If you’ve run Chicago and are looking for other unique or big destination races where the main event is shorter than a half marathon, you might want to check out Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, the Perth Kilt Run in Ottawa, I can also recommend City2Surf in Sydney Australia (haven’t written a race report for that yet.) If you have suggestions please add to the comments below! I’ve already added Vancouver Sun Run, Atlanta Peach Tree, and Bolder Boulder in Colorado to my wish list.

You don’t need to be a marathon runner to be a runner and you don’t have to run a half or full marathon to justify a trip for an amazing race experience!

If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of my running related posts with everything from gear reviews, to running disaster stories!

One response to this post.

  1. Reblogged this on Run K2J and commented:
    Susan’s Race Report from the Shamrock Shuffle

    Reply

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