Updated October 9, 2022
The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle is back! This coming Sunday, March 20, 2022, the Chicago rite of spring happens on the first day of spring! Race Director Carey Pinkowski and I spoke the other night via telephone about the upcoming race, Carey’s absolute pleasure that he can hold the race in 2022, and his modest goal of running his own road race.
And a bit more on the race….
Carey Pinkowski gets to run his own race ….
The Shamrock 8k is a rite of spring in the metro Chicago area. The 8k, in past years, has had up to 40,000 runners in the iconic Chicago race.
The problem is, the Shamrock has not been held for almost three years. The race was canceled in 2020, 2021 (held as virtual in 2021), and now, back in 2022.
“It has been almost 3 full years since the last time we held the Shamrock Shuffle, ” noted an enthusiastic Carey Pinkowski in a phone call with this
Catching up after two years of the pandemic, Carey spoke about how great it was to have the Chicago marathon this past year and how the numbers are “pretty good” for the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle be held March 20, 2022.
This writer has been to several of the Shamrock Shuffles. The crowds are mixed with serious runners, fitness runners, newbie runners, and costumed runners. For one who has experienced many, the flavor is a slightly Midwestern version of the famous Bay to Breakers on the West coast. The weather, windy and going from cold to a bit warm, is a perfect early rite of spring in Chicago.
Carey Pinkowski, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
The other part of this Midwestern tradition is that it is a true, right of spring, which begins Sunday, March 20, 2022, the same day as the Shuffle!
In speaking with Carey, it is obvious that the man is happy. “I’m just happy we can do it this year, as we had to cancel the last two races!
But the big news is …..Carey Pinkowski is running the race in 2022! “It is a lot easier to run than to manage the race, ” chuckled Pinkowski.
” I just hope that I do not have to walk; that is my goal, ” noted the wisened Race Director.
For the past three decades, Carey Pinkowski has sat atop the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, seeing it go from the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon and before that, the Beatrice Chicago Marathon to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Nike as the footwear and apparel sponsor. That Pinkowski and his partner in road racing, Mike Nishi, manage CEM Events, keeping a global bank and global sports apparel and footwear power happy is no mean feat.
Pinkowski is the archetypal big-city race director. He has seen both great ones and not-so-great ones. Pinkowski learned from the hot years in Chicago. It challenged him to be a better race director and build an incredible team. I recall a story about the late Fred Lebow, who would stay up all night before the Marathon to ensure things were done right. I recall, in the early 1990s, coming back from a marathon party early in the morning to see Carey Pinkowski checking out the long blue line on the marathon course. When I asked him how much sleep he had that night, he noted, a few days later, that he had a few hours. I am not sure that has changed in the current years.
This writer has missed two years since 1990, even taking a bus months after heart surgery to cover the iconic marathon. And now, CEM, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon producer, has three events. In June, they will add a half marathon.
The Shamrock Shuffle has been CEM’s lone spring event, including 50 clubs from as far away as the West coast, with the Hanson’s Brooks Distance Project always putting a ton of runners in the top 10 men and women.
Putting on a major road race as the pandemic evolves. As of March 25, Hawaii will be the 50th state to lower its requirements regarding masks indoors. Americans seem divided on the pandemic, but no matter where one stands, the running community is cautiously coming back from almost three years of canceled events. Most runners want real, actual events to happen, and while they will compete in virtual events, they want the spirit of thousands of runners to be with them, but they also want to stay safe. This is just a part of what race event teams are faced with, bringing an event back from virtual to live.
Carey Pinkowski and his team have a love of American runners. Pinkowski, a former Villanova runner, with PBs at 4.00.8 for the mile and a 2:22 marathon, was also one of the three finest runners ever to run in Indiana high schools (Rudy Chapa, Carey Pinkowski, Tim Keogh all broke 9 minutes for 2 miles from same high school in Hammond, Indiana, in 1975, something not done since). I recall reading about Carey, Rudy, and Tim in RW in 1975, in an article about their high school coach, Daniel Candiano, who built them into fine running engines at Hammond high school. In high school at the time, we think that their accomplishments have stood the test of time.
In 2011, the late Jim Ferstle, one of our sports’ finest writers, did an amazing piece on Rudy Chapa, Carey Pinkowski, and Tim Keogh, and their coach, Dan Candiano, in Runners’ World titled, The Magic of Maywood Park.
Carey Pinkowski gets it. After all of these years, he has dealt with rain, wind, heat, pandemics, war, and CEM races have survived. This year, CEM is adding the Bank of America Chicago Half marathon in June 2022. Carey Pinkowski has developed world-class fields that resulted in World records at the marathon. The Shamrock Shuffle has excellent times, but the truth is, CEM wants people to compete, whatever their level of fitness, hence, the 8k, 8k virtual run, 2 miles, and 1 mile. To register, check out: www.shamrockshuffle.com .
But for this weekend, Carey Pinkowski will be running 8k at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, raising money for the race charities, and hoping to run the entire way. That is a modest goal for a man who has experienced elite running from many levels.
At the end of the day, Carey Pinkowski knows this; he has to build events for all levels of runners.
This is why CEM events are so successful.
2022 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, March 20, 2022
2022 Bank of America Chicago 13.1-June 5, 2022
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