40 Years: The History of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K

Key milestones in the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle's 8K history

Feed your inner Irish by participating in Chicago’s annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. The event is the kick-off to running season in Chicago, with the course weaving its way through the city’s downtown, starting and ending in Grant Park.

With 2019’s Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle right around the corner, marking a major anniversary for the event, let’s take a look back on the key moments in the event's 40-year history.

1980: The first annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K was held with an estimated 1,000 participants. The course ran through Lincoln Park on Chicago’s near North side. Kurt Schallenberber of Illinois and Peggy Schott of Illinois became champions.

1988: Runners braved the cold with wind chills hovering near minus 20. Olympian Jim Spivey claimed the men’s championship in 23:50. Locally, Jim Hanson of Illinois won the men’s competition in 24:55 while Sarah Linsley of Illinois became the women’s champion, tying the course record she set in 1982, at 27:41.

1992: The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K was recognized as the largest certified 8K, with nearly 7,500 participants. Darsie Bowden of Illinois set the record for female Masters (over 40) finishing in 29:31.

1993: For the first time, the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K offered prize money of $2,000 to top finishers. Scott Jenkins of Wisconsin, finishing in 24:00, and Colette Murphy of Indiana, finishing in 27:18, claimed victories.

1996: Elite athletes were invited to participate for the first time at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Before, notable runners came to Chicago on their own to compete.

1997: The 18th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, Walk and Kid’s Shuffle hit a record with 8,467 registered runners. The cold, with strong winds and snow flurries, did not stop runners, with John Kariuki of Kenya and Colette Murphy of Indiana setting new course records of 22:58 and 26:32. A record of $6,400 prize money was awarded with event record bonuses.

1998: Named one of the “Best 100 Races for 1988” by Runner’s World, the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K hosted the 1998 USATF National Masters and 8K Championship. Defending Shuffle champion John Kariuki of Kenya was defeated by Kenyan James Kariuki (no relation) with a new course record of 22:35. Two-time Bank of America Chicago Marathon Champion Marian Sutton became the first non-American woman to win the Shamrock Shuffle, in a new event record of 25:53. The 19th annual race broke record participation of more than 9,000 runners.

1999: The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K had a successful year with 11,307 participants. Runners were greeted with partly cloudy skies, a light breeze and a race time temperature of 49 degrees. American Todd Williams, 30, of Knoxville, Tenn., won the men’s race in 23:20 beating masters (over 40) runner John Tuttle, 41, of Douglasville, Ga., in 23:25, Kenyan Joseph Kahugu, 27, in 23:37 and local athletes Jeff Jacobs 34, of Roscoe, Ill., in 23:41 and John Wiegel 25, of Naperville, in 24:04. In the women’s race, Collette Liss, 25, of Valparaiso, Ind., won with a time of 26:45, defeating Russian Albina Gallyamova 35, in 26:52. Race organizers offered online registration for the first time with 1,573, a little more than 10 percent of pre-registered runners opting for the Internet.

2000: This year marked the closest finish in Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K history. Mark Coogan, 33, of Fredrick, Md., beat Todd Williams, 31, of Knoxville, Tenn., by less than a half-step, finishing in 22:59. Collette Liss, 26, of Valparaiso, Ind., not only successfully defended her title but also set a new course record of 25:26 in the process, 27 seconds faster than the previous record set by Marian Sutton in 1998. The race attracted 13,822 participants competing for a total purse of $8,000. The biggest excitement of the day was Chicago’s own Oprah Winfrey running the race, finishing in a respected 51:55. Additionally, 75 percent of the registered runners signed up online, taking advantage of both the convenience and $4 discount.

2001: The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k, now the largest 8K race in the world, brought a record of 16,582 participants to Grant Park. Australian Shaun Creighton, 34, of Albuquerque, NM, won with a time of 22:51. Canadian Kathy Butler, 27, of Madison, Wisc., set a new women’s event record of 25:25 with her first Shamrock Shuffle victory in two appearances. Creighton and Butler each took home $1,500 for their victories out of the event record $10,000 purse. Butler earned an additional $1,000 for her event record.

Warren Utes, 80, set a national age group record by completing the 8K in 37:08, beating the previous record by an amazing three minutes. Since 1997, the number of registered participants increased 96 percent during the four-year period.

2002: A total of 17,470 participants took part in the event, including 15,917 runners in the 8K race and 1,298 walkers in the 5K Fitness Walk. Australian Shaun Creighton, 35, of Albuquerque, NM successfully defended his title in 22:57 while new-comer Priscilla Hein, 25, of Indianapolis, Ind. won her first 8K road race in 26:08.

2003: The 24th Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k made history when Shaun Creighton and Collette Liss became the first-ever three-time champions of the world’s largest 8K road race. Australian and two-time Olympian Creighton, 25, finished in 23:13, beating second-place finisher Brian Sell, 24, of Rochester Hills, Mich., by 6 seconds. Liss, 29, of Indianapolis, Ind., finished 26:14, well ahead of second-place finisher Jenny Crain, of Eugene, Ore., by 25 seconds. Creighton and Liss both took home $1,250 for their victories. The total prize purse for the event was $8,800. Locally, the fastest Chicago male was Christopher Birchall, 24, finishing at 23:51; the fastest female was Megan Levin, finishing at 29:15, among the field of thousands of Chicago women who ran in what many say was the best ever Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K.

2004: The 25th Anniversary Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K was a success with a record 22,382 registered runners. Kicking off running season in Chicago, the race morning brought sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. The 2004 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K marked the birth of two new stars, American Brian Sell, finishing in 23:31 and Russian Tatyana Chulakh, finishing in 25:56. Local favorite 42-year-old Jenny Spangler, winner of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 1996, finished a solid 4th place in 27:33.

2005: With yet another even record of 22,500 runners and temperatures in the high 40s, American runner Deena Kastor set an American record 8K time of 24:36. The previous record, 25:02, was set by Lynn Jennings in 1991. In the men’s race, American Brian Sell repeated his 2004 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K championship, crossing the finish line in 23:17, only two seconds ahead of Leszek Beigala of Poland. Sell is only the second male to post back-to-back championships in the event. Shaun Creighton of Australia won in both 1999 and 2000.

2006: Battling the swirling winds of downtown Chicago, Chad Johnson pulled out a win for the men’s title and Constantina Tomescu-Dita was in control start to finish in the women’s race. Johnson worked with Hansons-Brooks Distance Project teammate Josh Eberly and began reeling in early leader Khalif Khannouchi after the 4-mile mark. Johnson passed the former two-time world record-holder in the marathon with 200 meters to go on Columbus Drive, and Eberly, also closing fast, got Khannouchi just before the finish. Johnson’s winning time was 23:52. Eberly clocked 23:56 and Khannouchi 23:57. In the women’s competition, Tomescu-Dita, 36, of Romania, ran by herself almost the entire race and won comfortably in 26:27.

The 28th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K sold out with an increased field size of 30,000 runners. The men’s race saw Luke Watson from Madison, Wisc. beat strong Hansons-Brooks Distance Project runners. Watson held on strong down Columbus Drive, breaking the tape first in 23:26. Josh Moen from the Hansons-Brooks finished second 6 seconds later, and a total of eight members from the Hansons-Brooks finished inside the top 13. The women’s race saw Chicago’s very own Tera Moody run with time to spare. Moody put 32 seconds between herself and second place finisher, Olga Romanova, comfortably winning in 27:09.

2008: The participant capacity for the 29th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K was reached nearly two months in advance of the event. More than 22,600 runners completed the race. Brian Olinger of Ohio finished in 23:09 with a 25-second victory over Luke Watson, the 2007 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K champion finishing in 23:34. For the women, Annie Gasway, of Gurnee, beat out Claudia Becque of Chicago, by two seconds to break the tape first in 29:03.

2009: The 30th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K greeted the runners with snow. Under blustery conditions, runners were forced to slow down and make the best of the race heading towards the finish line down Columbus Drive. This year marked the beginning of the Elite Club Competition which started as a way to give top distance runners in the Midwest a unique opportunity to compete head to head. The competition welcomed 21 USA Track & Field member running clubs. Chicago’s own Fleet Feet/Nike racing team beat Iowa’s Runablaze for women’s title, and the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project took down Racine’s Wisconsin Runner racing team for the men’s title. Emmanuel Korir finished first for individual men’s race in 24:18 and 2005 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K and Bank of America Chicago Marathon winner, Denna Kastor came in first at 27:15.

2010: Kenyan John Kemboi, 19, and American Tera Moody, 29, outran the largest field in Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K history with an event-record field of 25,561 runners. Kemboi broke the finish line tape in 23:29 in his first race on U.S. soil. Moody’s 27:21 win marked her second Shamrock Shuffle win. In the second annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Elite Club Competition, Wisconsin Runner Racing Team A placed first for the men and Runablaze Iowa ranked first among the women.

2011: With an event-record field of 32,427 runners crossing the finish line and temperatures in the 70s, Olympian Amy Yoder Begley and Canadian national record holder Simon Bairu outran the largest field in the race's 32-year history. Begley, a six-time U.S. national champion and a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in the 10,000 meters, won in 26:50, the fastest women’s time since 2006. Bairu, a two-time NCAA cross-country champion and three-time Big Ten cross-country champion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, broke the finish line tape in 23:38, beating last year’s men’s winner John Kemboi, of Kenya, by one second. For the third-consecutive year, the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K featured an Elite Club Competition for USA Track & Field (USATF)-member running clubs. Both winning teams from last year repeated as champions.

2012: Comfortable weather conditions in the mid-50s greeted participants at the 33rd annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Leading the way was men’s champion Abdelaaziz Atmani, of Indianapolis, Ind., in 23:18, and women’s champion Julia Lucas, of Eugene, Ore., in 25:37; the fastest women’s winning time since Deena Kastor’s American record in 2005 and the seventh fastest women’s time in event history. The fourth annual Elite Club Competition featured 30 of the top USA Track & Field-member racing teams from across the Midwest and as far away as California. The Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks Distance Project won both the men’s and women’s elite club titles.

2013: Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s greeted participants for the second consecutive year at the 34th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Phillip Reid, 27, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., broke the finish line first in 23:08. The women’s winner was U.S. Olympian Lisa Uhl, 25, Des Moines, Iowa, in 25:54. Reid’s winning time was the fastest run on the course since 2002. The 2013 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K included the USATF National Club Team 8 km Championships, featuring 49 elite club teams from across the country. The Rochester Hills, Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks Distance Project won both the men’s and women’s elite club titles for the second year in a row. In the wheelchair competition, Adam Finney, Chicago, won his first-ever Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K title in 22:07. The women’s wheelchair champion was Diana Helt, Chicago in 31:40.

2014: Jacob Riley, 25, of Rochester, Mich., was the first runner to cross the finish line at the 35th Anniversary Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, finishing in 23:06, the 15th fastest time in Shamrock Shuffle history. The women’s winner, Katie Kellner, 22, of Rochester Hills, Mich., finished in 27:13. Both winners were members of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. The 2014 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K included the second consecutive USATF National Club Team 8 km Championships, featuring 47 elite club teams from around the country. For the third year in a row, Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks Distance Project won both the men’s and women’s elite individual titles. In the wheelchair competition, Bobby Swanson, of Round Lake Beach, Ill., won the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K title in 25:38. The women’s wheelchair champion Kendall Gretsch, of Downers Grove, Ill., finished in 26:33.

2015: Stephen Sambu, the 8K world record holder from Kenya, finished the race in first place for men, earning the fastest time run on the course in more than a decade. His time was 00:23:03, and he ran at an average pace of 4:39 minutes per mile. The race marked the first time he had visited Chicago. Alexi Pappas finished in first place for women with a time of 00:26:32. The Shuffle marked the second time the elite runner visited Chicago. She first came to the Windy City to pace the elite runners in the Chicago Marathon in 2014.

2016: Defending champions Stephen Sambu and Alexi Pappas return for their second victories in the race, both beating their winning times from 2015. Sambu finished with an unofficial time of 00:22:45. Pappas had an unofficial time of 00:26:17. Pappas noted that wind wasn't as much of a factor in this year's race.

2017: Stephen Sambu took home his “hat trick” victory and Olympian Kim Conley came out triumphant at the finish line. Paralympian and three-time Chicago Marathon champion Amanda McGrory also made a victorious debut in this year’s wheelchair competition. Sambu faced off against Olympian Diego Estrada, the seventh-fastest American over the half-marathon distance. Estrada came in second place in the race. Conley battled 2016 runner-up and local elite runner Kristen Heckert. Olympic bronze medalist and 2005 Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle champion Deena Kastor was also featured in this year’s event. Kastor is the American record-holder for the event.

2018: Leading the way for the more than 25,000 runners, Stephen Sambu completed an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory and Colorado's Laura Thweatt earned a first-place finish in her return from an injury. University of Illinois' Brian Siemann and defending women's champ Amanda McGrory both took home victories in the wheelchair races as well.

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