Chicago Marathon & Half Marathon
Chicago, IL USA
October 13, 2013

Information about the Chicago Marathon

Since its revival in 1977, the annual Chicago Marathon has grown to become not only one of the premiere running events in the world but a major cultural event for the city. Officially called the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the 26-mile race currently hosts some 45,000 participants and over 1.5 million spectators every year, easily making it one of the largest running events in the world.

Drawing runners from across the globe, the Chicago Marathon has made its name as a fast, flat course. World records have been as recently as 2011, and 4 times in the last 30 years. With its growing popularity among amateurs and professionals alike, the marathon has seen its size swell along with its prestige. Currently, the Marathon is recognized as one of five World Marathon Majors and as an IAAF Gold Label race.

Despite multiple upward revisions of its cap, the Chicago Marathon still routinely reaches its maximum number of 45,000 racers as early as 6 months in advance of its traditional October running. Although some exceptions are made for elite runners and various charity organizations, as a rule of thumb if you want to run, then start planning early.

As you would expect with such a huge event, the two-day Health and Fitness Expo accompanying it is equally massive. Typically located at the McCormick Place Convention Center, the free Expo features more than 200 exhibitors, Main Stage Presentations and Participant Packet Pick Up. Remember, packets are not mailed and are not available on race day, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Even in a major market like Chicago, the influx of people means getting reservations for a hotel can be burdensome if not done early. The Hilton Chicago is the Official Housing Partner of the marathon, and some discounted rates are available if you reserve early. As an added bonus, the Hilton Chicago hosts a Pasta Dinner Buffet the night before the race.

Although parking is available near the start line, runners and spectators are encouraged to utilize Chicago's various public transit options on race day morning. Street closures and heavy congestion can make for major delays, so no matter how you plan to get there, make sure you leave early.

Once you have your bib on, and ChronoTrack D-Tag timing device set, it's time to head to the start line located in Chicago's historic Grant Park. The Marathon is run in two waves, with entrants in various starting corrals according to estimated time of completion.

It likely won't take long after you've started to realize why the Chicago race has become so popular. The current course winds through 29 of the city's most recognizable neighborhoods, from the Loop, to Wrigleyville, Chinatown and more. Medical support, Aid stations, and restroom facilities are located at regular intervals; just make sure you aren't too caught up taking in the city's sights to use them!

An amazing race and an awesome cultural event, the Chicago Marathon has certainly earned its reputation as one of the most important long distance races in the world.