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Chicago Marathon guide

Experience the Chicago Marathon with our guide to viewing spots, restaurant along the course and more

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Thousands of runners sped through neighborhoods across the city during the 2015 Chicago Marathon

Autumn in Chicago is packed with things to do, but there’s always room in our busy lives for the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, returning for its 38th year Sunday, October 9. Nearly two million spectators flock to the 26.2-mile route annually, cheering on participants with some of the most creative handmade signs as runners race toward the finish line in Grant Park. While October offers up tons of things to see in Chicago, this is an event you won't want to miss. Check out our guide to everything from spectating to carbo-loading, plus how to gear up and what runners need to know.

When is the Chicago Marathon?

The Chicago Marathon takes place on Sunday, October 9, beginning at 7am and running through the afternoon.

Where is the Chicago Marathon?

The Chicago Marathon begins and ends in Grant Park, but the course winds through the city's streets, stopping from Chinatown, Pilsen, Lincoln Park and more Chicago neighborhoods. Take a look at the complete route map here.

Chicago Marathon info

Tips to surviving the Chicago Marathon
Sports and fitness

Tips to surviving the Chicago Marathon

Some tips on how to make it through this notoriously greuling race

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The best new running products
Shopping

The best new running products

We're here to further your habit for the sport with great gear

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Chicago's best running shops
Shopping

Chicago's best running shops

You'll find all of the best shoes, apparel and accessories you need at these shops

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14 runners you'll see on the lakefront
Things to do

14 runners you'll see on the lakefront

Newbies and marathon participants are sure to encounter these runners on the road to shin splints

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Photos from every stage of the Marathon
Sports and fitness

Photos from every stage of the Marathon

From Lincoln Park to Chinatown, we checked in with runners all over the course

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Energy gel taste test
Sports and fitness

Energy gel taste test

We tried GU, Power Gel and other weird-tasting energy gels so you don't have to

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2015 photos

Chicago Marathon 2015 photos from around the course
Sports and fitness

Chicago Marathon 2015 photos from around the course

Highlights of the race from starting corral to finish line, through every stage and neighborhood 

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Starting and finishing at the 2015 Chicago Marathon
Sports and fitness

Starting and finishing at the 2015 Chicago Marathon

Check out the highlights from starting corral and finish lines at the 2015 Chicago Marathon

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Chicago Marathon 2015 funniest spectator signs
Sports and fitness

Chicago Marathon 2015 funniest spectator signs

We captured the funniest signs at the 2015 Chicago Marathon 

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2014 photos

2014: Best costumes
Sports and fitness

2014: Best costumes

You never know who might run by

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2014: Funniest signs
Sports and fitness

2014: Funniest signs

Here's what kept us laughing

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2014: Starting line
Sports and fitness

2014: Starting line

Only 26 miles to go!

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2014: Photo finish
Sports and fitness

2014: Photo finish

Athletes cross the finish line

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2013 photos

2013: Best spectator signs

2013: Best spectator signs

The funniest signs along the marathon's route

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2013: Chinatown photos

2013: Chinatown photos

Dragon dancers greeted runners

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2013: Starting line photos

2013: Starting line photos

On your mark, get set, go!

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2013: Boystown photos

2013: Boystown photos

The first third of the race rolls through the North Side

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2012 photos

2012: Starting line photos

2012: Starting line photos

See the start of the 2012 marathon

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2012: Elite finishers photos

2012: Elite finishers photos

The top dogs breaking the tape

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2012: Finish line photos

2012: Finish line photos

Exhaustion and triumph at the end

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2012: Spectator sign photos

2012: Spectator sign photos

"Don't Poop Your Pants" and more 2012 slogans

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Archive of Chicago Marathon Coverage

Spectator 101: Can't-miss tips to watching the Chicago Marathon
Sports and fitness

Spectator 101: Can't-miss tips to watching the Chicago Marathon

Clarify which side of the street you’ll be cheering from so your runner can make sure he or she will be on the same side as you. The Red Line Spectator: Capturing most of the race at the north and south points? The Red Line is your answer to hit at least four spots on the route. Start off at the first mile marker on Grand Avenue Hop north on the Red Line to Addison and south down Broadway to catch runners at mile eight. Then head south on the Red Line to the Cermak stop in between the 21 and 22 mile markers. From here, take the Red Line north to Roosevelt and snag a spot just as runners are turning the corner from Michigan to Roosevelt to Columbus and the finish line. The Leisurely Loop Spectator: Start at State and Wacker and catch runners as they make their way south over the bridge. The Marriott Renaissance corner is a great spot to catch runners and gives you an advantage to walk across Wacker to LaSalle so that you can catch your runner running north at mile three. Proceed over to Hubbard to catch your runner right before the halfway point at mile 12. From here, start making your way to the finish line and enjoy your last 1.5 hours (give or take) before your runner completes the race The Good Samaritan Spectator: Embrace the West Loop as your spectator location, where spectators tend to thin out and runners start to feel the pain of miles 16–18. If you want to round out support, make your way to mile 25 where your runner will likely be dazed

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Chicago marathon gear
Shopping

Chicago marathon gear

Check out these old favorites

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Running terminology 101
Sports and fitness

Running terminology 101

What's a gel? What's PR stand for?

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How to spot a runner in a marathon | marathon-watching tips
Sports and fitness

How to spot a runner in a marathon | marathon-watching tips

1. Use a homing device Go to chicagomarathon.com and sign up for runner tracking. You’ll get messages via text message, Twitter or Facebook when your runner passes checkpoints: the start line, half marathon and various other milemarkers along the way. Each text also displays the runner’s average pace up to that point—info you can use to better calculate when he will reach you. 2. Know your runner’s predicted pace Runner tracking can go on the fritz on race day—whether your cell has bad service or there’s a glitch in the technology. (One year, I received text updates for friends more than 12 hours after the race was over…helpful!) So find out what pace your pal expects to run and then calculate what time she should pass your cheering spot. This is no time for modesty. For example, if she says she’ll run 9-minute miles but she really plans to run 8s, your window for spotting her at the halfway point would move up by almost 15 minutes. 3. Pick a viewing spot in advance Don’t wait until you roll out of bed Sunday morning to decide where you feel like standing along the course. Choose a spot in advance and tell your runner exactly where you’ll be. Must-share info: The intersection, mile, even the side of the street you’ll hang out on—so they can align themselves on that side of the pack. It’s much easier for a runner to find you than vice versa. 4. Find out what your runner is wearing Even if you’re looking for your twin brother in the crowd, you won’t spot him unless you know

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Comments

1 comments
john f
john f

Marathon runners are the most self-absorbed, self-centered, selfish assholes in the world!!  What a waste of fucking time to train and run a fucking marathon....and then talk about how great you are!!!!  My fat, ugly wife just ran her 2nd marathon and I was hoping that she would die from the heat!!!  But the BITCH made it.  It took her over 6 hours to run this shitty race and she still got a medal!!!  She walks around the house proudly displaying this cheap piece of shit that they gave her and it's the only thing her sorry ass has ever done....what a sad life!!!  That is why I hate her so much!!  She spent over 300 hours on this stupid race and totally abandoned her family and everything else during this time.  The amazing thing is that after all that training and running 2 of these fuckass races, she is still fat, smelly and ugly!!  and now she has red burn marks across her breasts and fat stomach from all the flab flapping against each other.  And her feet are totally disgusting with black toes and now she has all of these fucking varicose veins running up and down her legs......how attractive!!  They say running is good for you but she looks a thousand times worse than what she did before she started!!!!  I feel like throwing up every time I look at her!!!!  So my message to all you runners....go FUCK YOURSELVES!!  and I hope all of you rot in hell.  Email me your comments as I don;t have time to come back to this crappy website.  My email is johnfasb@vfemail.net