The Chicago Marathon is one of the 6 Abbot World Major Marathon races. It is one of the largest marathons in the world. It is also an incredible experience and one of my favorite races. I have had the pleasure of running it 3 times, all of which were amazing.
Here are my tips for the Chicago Marathon.
Arrive earlier rather than later- This goes for both the expo and the starting line. The expo gets more crowded as days go on. Get there are early as you can, i.e. if you can go on the first day to pick up your race bib, do that! For the starting line, get there at the earlier end of the time frame because the security checkpoints to get into the starting line area can sometimes take awhile. Don’t cut it close otherwise your corral could close and you will get stuck having to start in the back of the pack.
Set a meeting place with your friends and family for after the race- There are a TON of people at Grant Park near the finish line. My cellphone NEVER gets service in that area because of all the people and all the phones, so depending on your cell phone provider, don’t rely on using that to text anyone. Set a designated meeting place for after the race to hook up with your family.
Make reservations for dinner ahead of time for the night before and after the race- The marathon brings A TON of people to town and favorite restaurants can get crowded. Find where you want to eat ahead of time and make a reservation. Make a reservation for your carb load the night before and your celebratory dinner the night after the race.
Don’t try to drive to race start- I can’t emphasize this enough, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OR WALK! So many roads are closed before the race start near the finish line that getting close is very tough. Stay somewhere that is close to public transportation options or walk. There are A LOT of hotel options that are easily walkable to start/finish line.
Mentally prepare for the course- The race is a very flat course. I would look at the map ahead of time though so you have an idea of what areas you are going to be in when. I’ve noticed the last half of the course has a tendency to be a little breezier than the first have because you are closer to the lake, but overall the weather tends to be perfect for running.
Enjoy the spectators- The Chicago Marathon has some of the most amazing spectators I have ever experiences running. Each neighborhood is like big party. There are a ton of people handing out oranges and pretzels and even beer!
If you want to be cheered on by thousands, put your name on your shirt- Cricut your name on your shirt or sharpie it on to some tape and stick it to you, whatever works. The spectators will see your name and cheer you on personally! It can be helpful when you are hitting those last few miles and could use some extra encouragement.
Take an amazing post race medal pic- There is so many amazing backdrops to take fun medal pictures.
Get your finishers gear- While Nike isn’t my favorite brand, Nike is the official gear and the big Nike store on Michigan Ave sells tons of “finisher” gear after the race and until the things sell out.
Have fun!- You did the training, don’t be too hard on yourself on race day. Stick to your plane and adjust if you need to depending on weather. Remember to enjoy the race!
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