Chicago was incredible. I'm always a little anxious about large out of town races but this one went smoothly.
I Ubered to the expo from my hotel for about $25. For me it was a little easier than trying to figure out the trains since I was traveling alone.
The expo was a little overwhelming to my but what you would expect from large race. Packet pick up was efficient and the vendors were spaced out enough that it didn't feel like you were jammed in there.
There was just about every running vendor on hand that you could think of including Nuun, Picky Bars and my personal favorite, Goose Island!
Our swag bags had the usual, a few samples and a few flyers. We also had been e-mailed a virtual goody bag with all sorts of discounts throughout Chicago. The shirt was a red short sleeve tech shirt. I'm the odd man out in that I'd much rather have a cotton shirt but this was nice quality.
I took a cab back to my hotel (they were lined out and waiting outside of the expo, $25).
I purposely chose to stay downtown because I wanted to be within walking distance of the start and finish. It was a little pricey and required a three night minimum stay but I felt that it was worth it to have that accessibility.
Race morning I walked to the start with my Team in Training charity. It was nice to be running with them because they helped us find the entrance to our gate. I've never been to a start line this big. MCM is close but not near as big.
We started in three different staggered waves to keep space in between the runners.
The start of the race wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be. We were stretched across enough lanes that I wasn't running into people. It seemed like the whole city turned out to cheer us on. It was LOUD.
This course is flat and fast. The miles ticked by quickly. In other races I've ran the spectators thin out but they seemed everywhere in Chicago! I had to pause my music several times because I could hear it over the screams!
There were plenty of aid stations throughout the course and they weren't overcrowded at all.
At the finish they were handling out the usual water and bananas as well as Goose Island beers!
Overall this was a fantastic race. Leading up to the race we received plenty of communication, the race app was well designed and I can't say enough good things about the race itself.
Definitely a must run marathon!