The Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon

( 247 reviews )
99% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Chicago,
    United States
  • October
  • 3 miles/5K, 26.2 miles/Marathon
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Angie Maske-Berka

Iowa, United States
177 212
"26.2 miles of cement"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Angie Maske-Berka's thoughts:

Sunday October 11, 2015. 7:30/8:00 am. Windy, Sunny. Race start in the 60's ending at about 80 degrees.

Registration: The Chicago Marathon is a HUGE event, over 45,000 runners, unless you have a qualifying time or are running for charity, you need to enter a lottery and be chosen to run. If you are chosen, you are notified by email, and then given some time to decide if you want to run. The cost is $185, all done online. Included is a bib, chip timing, short sleeve gender specific tech shirt, post race beer, and post race "party".

Gone are the days you bring your money on race day, sign up and run.

Expo/Packet Pick up: This event was held at McCormick Center, which is not easy to get to on foot. There is parking, but for a fee, and validated to around $10. Many shuttles around town provided to get there, or public transit was available.
-Packet Pick up - only the participant could get the bib. No one else, no mailing options. Volunteers directed you to a person scanning your mailer or an email, which brought up your information on a screen/tablet. From there you were directed to a numbered station. At this station the volunteer already had a screen up with your information and the envelope with your bib.
-Shirts - To get your shirt you had to then walk to the back of the expo space, but easy to navigate as there were signs posted overhead. The shirts were organized by gender, then size, a scan of the bib envelope, and you were given a shirt, in your clear gear check bag.
-Virtual Bag - a few days before an email was sent to each participant as the virtual event bag, allowing you to claim offers and discounts.
-Vendors - anything and everything. Sign up for races, spin the wheel for items, sign up for items, purchase shoes or race apparel, buy last minute fueling things, take photos, meet people, commemorative merchandise, posters, freebies. The place had it all. Plan for a an entire day to check everything out.
-Volunteers - there were tons of volunteers, all very happy and eager to help.

Pre-Race: The race is so huge that not only are there corrals, but there are 2 waves at the start. To get to each corral there are 3 entrances, and everyone has to pass through a security check point. Runners are encouraged to get to their corrals on time, otherwise they will be closed, and you have to start at the back of the corral. An each corral, volunteers were checking bibs. Three gear check tents were available, corresponding to bib numbers. Before the first start, the National Anthem is sung live. Once the race was over, there were announcements, and music over the loud speaker. Then each corral in the first wave goes, then the second wave corrals start. There were lots of port-o-potties around the start, but there were long lines. Parking was available, but it's Chicago, nothing close, and nothing free, public transit encouraged.

Also each participant was kept in the loop with this race, lots of emails leading up to race day.

Race/Course: The marathon goes through 29 some neighborhoods on the streets of Chicago. First traveling north and back, then west and back to the south, to finish back where we all started.

-Surface - Pavement or asphalt, lots of hard cement!!! Had to keep an eye to the ground, some potholes, or railroad tracks, places to trip you up, uneven areas.
-Elevation - flat, ok there are some hills, like crossing bridges or going under overpasses, but no steep climbs.
-Volunteers - lots of friendly volunteers of all ages, most were at the aid stations.
-Medical - near almost every aid area there was a medical tent, near this there were cardboard Vaseline stops.
-Aid Stations - These were almost 2 blocks long, paper cups with lemon-lime Gatorade first, then different paper cups with water. Up until about half way it was hydration only, then the later stops had some gels. Finally by mile 20 there were bananas. 2 stops with wet sponges. Spectators with make-shift aid, candy, pretzels, beer, etc.
-Spectators - the entire course is lined with spectators. Some only looking for their runners or pre occupied on their phones. Lots of great signs & cowbells. Some spectators with food.
-Photographers - MarathonFoto on course, stationed in many spots.
-Course Markings - Each mile was marked, each marker had a clock. There is also the blue line, or the tangent line, which marks the entire course.
-Bathroom - port-o-potties on course, each time I saw one there was a long line. One church had a sign opeing bathrooms to runners. Some medical stops had bathrooms for medical staff only.
-Scenery - City-scape, tall buildings, architecture, neighborhoods, US Cellular Field.
-Timing - there was a mylaps strip on the back of each runner's bib. There were mats on the course for runner's to be tracked.
-Course limit was 6 hours and 30 minutes.
-The temperature was rising to close to 80, and there wasn't a lot of shade on the course, unless provided my a tall building, which wasn't a lot near the end.

Finish/Post Race: The finish was marked with a "Finish" banner above the street, lots of photographers and a timing mat. Once across the line, participants were handed a bottle of water, then after some more walking, a medal was hung around your neck. The medal has an image of runners with the "bean" in the background, there are no words on the ribbon.

Then after some more walking, a bag with some post race pre packaged snacks. Then a heat sheet, even though it was about 80 degrees. Then after some more walking, a banana (choice of one already peeled, or one sealed) Then a 312, draft beer, no ticket required. Then a wet towel. Then some walking and bags of ice. The last tent had some Gatorade post fuel stuff.

Then after about another half mile,passing by a bank of port-o-potties, a flight of stairs, you had arrived at the "post race party" and family meeting area. There were tents with giveaways, medical rents, information tents, lettered signs for post race meet up, rolling, post race massage, 312 beer (first free with ticket, then available for purchase) a band, banks of port-o-potties. There were no shade tents, unless you were a charity runner. There were security to get into the area and security posts throughout.

Overall: This is World Marathon Major, it's a big deal race. It's also a big race. I am glad I did this once, not sure if I would do it again. It's pricey and the start is a hassle, if you prefer to get to a starting line and go. The race organization is top notch, and there are no major pains, just stupid people. Also I think most of my problems are just my personal preferences. I also think with my racing background, I have enough ground to base my opinions and know what I like.

check out my blog for opinion and photos

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