If you want a GREAT marathon experience, look no further! The Chicago Marathon takes you through 29 of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods on a very flat and fast course, perfect for shattering those PRs!
This race is managed very professionally. They truly have this down. Every detail is meticulously planned and executed.
Race communication begins months out and is extremely helpful. They discuss what to expect on race day, what the course is like, and how to make sure family and friends can see you on race day.
The Expo for this race is very expansive! You walk in and they have a very clear order in order to pick up all the items you need (bib, timing device, shirt, etc.). The race expo has every running-related vendor you can think of. (I picked up a great new fuel belt at an awesome price!). My favorite part of the expo is the video they play near the front, which is drive-through of the course. It helped me visualize what to expect on race day.
The Start Corrals are also extremely organized. I did not bring a bag, so I was allowed to go through the express security entrance (those with bags must have them checked by security personnel). There were an abundance of volunteers with bull horns to help make sure runners got to their appropriate corrals. The race announcers then play music and give announcements to keep runners in good spirits while they wait to start.
The course first does a little winding through the Loop before heading north to Addison Street, then back south to the Loop. At the half way mark, runners head way out west to Damen Street, then back east to the Loop once more before heading south to 35th Street. You then head north up beautiful Michigan Aveunue and finish near where you started- Grant Park. This course means your scenery is ever-changing and constantly different! Another major perk of this course is how spectator-friendly it is. The course is almost completely lined by spectators whose energy is nothing short of electric. I truly felt like the spectators carried me through in times of the race where I felt like I had nothing left!!
The aid stations are quite plentiful and could not be better done. There is always first one full city block of volunteers handing out Gatorade followed by an entire city block of volunteers with water. This makes sure that runners aren't crowding the volunteers and stepping over one another to get to the fluids. Later in the race, Gatorade Chews, bananas and gels are sprinkled throughout the aid stations, to help make sure you stay fueled. The bananas are always something I looked forward to.
The finish line area is also very well done. The medals are handed to you (pretty awesome design!) followed by beer, water, Gatorade, snacks, etc. The finish line chute does make you walk at least 4-5 city blocks, but this is to make sure you keep your muscles moving. When I finally was able to exit, I enjoyed the family reunite area, which was the perfect place to help facilitate me finding my family and friends.
Overall, this race is the Rolls Royce of races. Every details is planned for you and there is not one thing they do not think of! I would certainly recommend this race to runners of all backgrounds and abilities, especially for its easy/flat course. You won't be disappointed!