Cary Half Marathon 2017

Cool & Sunny - Near perfect running conditions
Half Marathon
2:20:20 - 10:43 Minutes/Mile

About The Race

Sponsored by the Hillstriders Running Club, the Cary March Madness Half Marathon, an over 40 year tradition, isa true runner's race and is the season opener for many Chicago area runners. The defining charectiristic of the race is that it is perhaps the hilliest half marathon in Northern Illinois and the course does not dissapoint. With around 600-700 feet of elevation gain, this definatly is not likely to be your PR, but, it's a fun race and great leg workout that may set the stage to PR your next pancake flat race.

Register Early! - And by early, I mean as soon as registration opens on the morning of December 31st. Registration is limited to about 1,000 runners and often the race sells out in one day. So, if you want to experience this race, plan to wake up early and have your credit card close to your computer.

For more information and registration visit the Cary Half Marathon Website


Mid-March in Northern Illinois you never know what kind of weather you will get. Could be 50 degrees and sunny or single digits with snow, but, fear not, with the start and finish at Cary-Grove High School, you can wait for the start in comfort inside the high school, which is exactly what I did.

With plenty of room inside the high school and ample supply of restrooms, pre-race was very uneventful. I ate some home made peanut butter and oatmeal balls 30-45 minutes pre-race, a gel and some water 10 minutes prior and with 5 minutes to go, headed outside with the rest of the crowd.


The plan was fairly simple. Steady for the first half of the race and then slowly increase pace throughout without overdoing it on the hills. I knew that there would be a short steep hill around mile 6 (named Sneaky Hill), so, after that hill I checked in with all the body parts to see if it was go time or not. Felt pretty good so it was game on. My plan was working well until about mile 10. The last 3 miles at Cary are mostly uphill and you are either ready or not. Well, I wasn't as ready as I thought. It wasn't terrible, but, it was a little slow and painful. None the less, the energy level is always high and the Tiki Bar after mile 10 always puts a smile on your face.

The final half mile is relatively flat allowing you to open up the legs and finish strong which is exactly what I did (albeit at my typical slothlike pace).

Cary Half Marathon Finish
Cary Half Marathon Finish

What Went Wrong

What Went Right

Final Thoughts

Don't Fear The Hills and give this race a try. It may not be your PR, but, it's a great race with an energetic atmosphere and super easy logistics.

Even if you don't run the race, head out to the course on weekend morning 2-4 weeks ahead of the race. There are sure to be plenty of runners finishing off their training on the course and can kind of have it's own race-like atmosphere.

Cary Half Marathon Finisher Medal and Sweater
Cary Half Marathon Finisher Medal and Sweater