"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Chicago’s West Side Hosts Bank of America Inaugural Half-Marathon

Chicago
Courtesy of Justin Connor

Friday afternoon barricades were placed on sidewalks along Douglas and Independence Boulevards stating the roads would be cut off Sunday, June 5, 2022 (from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Many West Side residents were unaware of the three-day health and wellness festival, including the half marathon hosted by Bank of America, set to take place in the community that weekend.

The inaugural Bank of America 13.1 race saw thousands of runners participate Sunday; two years later than initially intended due to COVID-19 restrictions canceling the event in 2020 and 2021. Wheelchair racers and runners from around the world traveled across the West Side of Chicago, following a course that began at Garfield park, passed through Douglas Park and Humboldt Park before returning to Garfield Park to cross the finish line.

Daniel Romanchuk won an extremely close men’s wheelchair race, finishing before Aaron Pike leading by a couple of feet. Susannah Scaroni won the women’s wheelchair race decisively. John Dressel won the men’s race with a time of 1:02:17, and Carrie Verdon took first place in the women’s race taking 1:11:15 to finish.

Bank of America
Courtesy of Justin Connor

That night Al Person, a lifetime resident of North Lawndale and a local business owner, felt much of the community was left out of the marathon festivities and asked on Facebook: “Who was this marathon for?”

“We saw the barricades get put out on Friday but had no idea what they were for,” Person told the Chicago Leader. Residents of the West Side neighborhoods the race cut through had no idea about Bank of America’s health and wellness festival, let alone the half marathon, and therefore did not participate.

A resident of a large apartment building located on the 900 block of South Independence Blvd. complained they were unable to get to work on time due to barricades in front of street entrances and alley exits blocking their car entirely.

“I had no idea what the streets were blocked off for and no way to get out,” they recollected having to wait for the race to finish in order to leave the building’s parking lot.

Although they were inconvenienced by the traffic disruptions and felt left out of the planning process, west side residents felt the inaugural Bank of America 13.1 race and its accompanying festivities could be an overall good thing for the community. Person, the owner of an ice cream parlor, restaurant, and grocery store on the West Side, said he welcomes new customers to the community and would have been interested in being a vendor for the event had he known about it in advance.

Bank of America drew a large crowd of participants and onlookers into a historically disinvested neighborhood and had a charitable mission in mind. They partnered with 6 local charities with a focus on youth and community development in an effort to “better the communities in which we live, work, and run,” Bank of America stated in a press release for the event. Runners who signed up to run for a charity team were required to raise a minimum of $500 for their respective charities. Many raised more than that.

The inaugural Bank of America 13.1 was successful in bringing the West Side its first world-class race and its residents hope to be more involved next year.

Written By Justin Connor
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

Bank of America: Registration for the Inaugural Bank of America Chicago 13.1 Launches Today

NBC 5 Chicago: Thousands of Runners Hit Chicago’s West Side for Bank of America Chicago 13.1

Images Courtesy of TNS Staff

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