Overall Rating
Overall Rating (90 Reviews)
4.7
(90 Ratings) 🏆 (90 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.2
SCENERY
4
PRODUCTION
4.7
SWAG
4.1
Running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the pinnacle of achievement for elite athletes and everyday runners alike. Since its inaugural running in 1977, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has developed a global reputation for its fast, record-setting course. Year after year the Bank of America Chicago Marathon hosts representatives … MORE
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Recent reviews

    runnerd26.2 FIRST-TIMER '21

    You never know what you are going to get with the weather. Some years it is hot and humid. Some years it is wet and windy. I got a hot, … MORE

    You never know what you are going to get with the weather. Some years it is hot and humid. Some years it is wet and windy. I got a hot, humid, and windy race. Probably could have set a PB, but the wind and gets took it out of me.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    abirdsong FIRST-TIMER '21

    The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an Abbot World Major, and this weekend I saw why. It is well-organized, efficient, and considers what is important to runners, from elites … MORE

    The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an Abbot World Major, and this weekend I saw why. It is well-organized, efficient, and considers what is important to runners, from elites to the every day athlete. We were provided with regular race updates regarding the Expo, course, and weather. On race morning, there were helpful and friendly volunteers directing athletes and making the navigation of the race start area easy. They had water and gatorade at the start area, but unfortunately could not permit any fluids past security into the start area–I think this caught some runners, including myself, by surprise and we had to dump our pre-filled flasks and refill later. The corrals were clearly marked and volunteers ensured each runner was in the correct corral; overhead announcements reminded runners of when their respective corral was closing. The course itself is superb, taking you through downtown Chicago, traversing over rivers several times, and running past key icons of the Windy City. The course winds through many neighborhoods and has several shaded areas. It is virtually flat, with a few minor elevation changes at overpasses or bridges. The race is widely embraced by Chicagoland, as crowds were out lining approx. 90% of the course. There were a few “dry spells” of not-so-scenic/industrial areas w/o crowds, as necessitated by the course. Aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked with water, Gatorade, and port-a-pots. They were on both sides and clearly marked. The finish area had several options of nutrition immediately after, including free beer, and the bag drop pick-up process could not have been smoother. They had gated off the finish area for participants only and spectators had to wait just outside the finish area. I really appreciated this, as it allowed runners to collect themselves and begin recovery without being swamped by spectators. Beyond the race finish area, the immediate streets were closed and there was signage and police officers to direct participants and spectators leaving the race, which prevented any congestion. I easily and quickly found my way back to the L line and to my lodging.

    We had warm weather for this race and the support, particularly medical, were outstanding. I saw at least two people down on the course in later miles and medical were promptly with each person. In addition, the Chicago Police were along the entire course, ensuring road closures and safety of runners. I have completed several 20,000+ running events and this race stands out as overall excellent, and being fully prepared for its volume of runners and spectators. This race felt like a recognition and celebration of everything running, and was well worth waiting three years to finally secure a lottery bib! I highly recommend it.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    venu.vegesana FIRST-TIMER '21

    Before the race it's Chicago that makes this race great and simple. The transportation is very easy from airport to downtown and local commute. Easy access to restaurants and big … MORE

    Before the race it’s Chicago that makes this race great and simple. The transportation is very easy from airport to downtown and local commute. Easy access to restaurants and big expo
    Next is crowd on the race course ..Amazing support through and it’s like festival
    Course is very good except many runners had tough experience with humid weather this year .
    Defiantly will revisit the race in future and one of the best experience
    The finish festival should be improved. For the race of this scale there are not enough experience for runner after finish line.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    cheryldoubledee FIRST-TIMER '21

    This was everything I expected an Abbott World Marathon Major race to be! Being the first year back after Covid, things were a bit different than I am sure they … MORE

    This was everything I expected an Abbott World Marathon Major race to be! Being the first year back after Covid, things were a bit different than I am sure they were in past years (expo had a HUGE line to get in as we were required to show proof of vaccination or negative test), but everything seemed to run very smoothly. The course is basically flat as can be (just a few up and over bridges) through all of Chicago’s neighborhoods. There were literally spectators the entire race and aid stations (with medical) every 1-2 miles. Although the weather was a bit nasty (humid) which created possibly dangerous running conditions (according to the race officials), runners were kept informed and sponge stations and water sprayers were added. This was a once in a lifetime experience! I would absolutely recommend this race. The only, and I mean only, thing I was not pleased with was race gear available for purchase. The sponsor, Nike, had very few items, very boring designs and nothing was available for immediate purchase at the Expo. It was website purchasing only and sold out almost immediately. I was able to snag a finisher’s jacket (in a size too large because my size was gone), but only because I saw a Facebook post.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    krenee2050 FIRST-TIMER '21

    It was so hot! Bees were everywhere. I almost died mile 23 but kept moving forward. I discovered the power of Biofreeze. Race logistics were easy. Train system was incredible. … MORE

    It was so hot! Bees were everywhere. I almost died mile 23 but kept moving forward. I discovered the power of Biofreeze. Race logistics were easy. Train system was incredible. Don’t know if I would ever do a marathon again but this was awesome experience for a first marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
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    5

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    TJax Oct 13, 2021 at 11:49am

    Yeah, just give it a few more days before you sign up for your next marathon. :) Congratulations on your first marathon finish! And thanks for the race review.

    Yeah, just give it a few more days before you sign up for your next marathon. :) Congratulations on your first marathon finish! And thanks for the race review.

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    krenee2050 Oct 13, 2021 at 11:55am

    Everyone keeps saying that!! LOL

    Everyone keeps saying that!! LOL

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    martinsondce FIRST-TIMER '21

    The pre-race information was very clear - time to complete, how to register, expo, etc. The course was not that hard compared to others. GPS reception was probably the most … MORE

    The pre-race information was very clear – time to complete, how to register, expo, etc. The course was not that hard compared to others. GPS reception was probably the most frustrating, but not a game changer. This was my 5th marathon and the crows support was the BEST I have experienced. In some areas I thought the music was too loud, but in other areas the cheers and bells and signs along the route made it a very enjoyable experience. The corral timing and start went smoothly and there were ample finish line photographers to take photos of you. The post race swag/snacks were also handled efficiently. The volunteers everywhere were very helpful and positive. I had a fun time. The downside was the traffic to get spectators around – it’s a nuthouse around there and I’m glad I had a local to get my family where they wanted to be on the route.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    pablopelos FIRST-TIMER '21

    Luckily it didn't get as hot as they were predicting, decent amount of fluid, and snack stations, wish they had more than one flavor of gatorade. I think there was … MORE

    Luckily it didn’t get as hot as they were predicting, decent amount of fluid, and snack stations, wish they had more than one flavor of gatorade. I think there was like 3 biofreeze stations along the way (not that I would partake during the race, that stuff tastes terrible, lol), overall a relatively flat course, good crowd participation, thanks for the can of ICE COLD Coors at mile 19.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
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    vaidilingam FIRST-TIMER '21

    Great production... Super organized. Just give enough time to wait it out at the start line. I was in the first wave (corral E) and it was 21 minutes after … MORE

    Great production… Super organized. Just give enough time to wait it out at the start line. I was in the first wave (corral E) and it was 21 minutes after the official start for me to get past the start line.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    reiko88 FIRST-TIMER '19

    Very windy (which is why I guess it’s called the Windy City)! It was very cold as well! We got cheap throw away jackets from the local good will! Love … MORE

    Very windy (which is why I guess it’s called the Windy City)! It was very cold as well! We got cheap throw away jackets from the local good will! Love the atmosphere of the crowds and cheering tho!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    lassieandmax FIRST-TIMER '19

    Everything people say about this race is true. Its amazing. The production, the fans, the energy... its all there. My favorite thing about this compared to other world majors is … MORE

    Everything people say about this race is true. Its amazing. The production, the fans, the energy… its all there. My favorite thing about this compared to other world majors is that Chicago starts early and finishes early. If you are staying in one of the hotels downtown, its reasonable to get around quickly and without much effort, so you have the rest of the day to wear your finisher shirt and medal, congratulate the passers by on their finish (bc they will be wearing their hard earned bling too). I can’t recommend this event enough.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
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    5
    SCENERY
    4
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    5

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    Bank82 FIRST-TIMER '19

    Ran this with my 64 year old father. This is by far my favorite marathon. My dad has a bad hip and it took us over 6 hours to finish. … MORE

    Ran this with my 64 year old father. This is by far my favorite marathon. My dad has a bad hip and it took us over 6 hours to finish. I can’t say enough on how amazing the spectators are. Even though we were on of the last people out on the course you would have thought we were leading the pack. I would love to go back and run this again.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    ams925 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    I can’t share enough good things about the marathon! I’ve done it 6 times, and I can’t wait for more! Packet pickup is great with shuttles from downtown to McCormick … MORE

    I can’t share enough good things about the marathon! I’ve done it 6 times, and I can’t wait for more!

    Packet pickup is great with shuttles from downtown to McCormick Center. There are tons of vendors at the expo, and the race shirt is generally a well designed shirt by Nike. There’s also lots of additional Nike race apparel for purchase.

    The start is logistically friendly and very walkable from downtown hotels (just plan to pay a good amount for the hotel room), and the finish is close to the start, so an easy walk back to your hotel.

    There are great crowds along the course, and there’s never a section where you don’t have crowd support! The first half is the more scenic part of the course, but you have a great last 3 miles running back downtown with the crowds really picking up as you get closer. There’s a tiny little incline at the end, which feels sizable since it’s in the last 0.2 miles of the race!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    randy-lohman FIRST-TIMER '19

    This was my first World Marathon Major and first huge race. It was a completely different experience for me compared to the most smaller races i run with a few … MORE

    This was my first World Marathon Major and first huge race. It was a completely different experience for me compared to the most smaller races i run with a few thousand at most. It was also my first time going to Chicago which shaped the experience. The expo was enormous but easy to follow and get what was needed. It was nice that they provided buses to and from the expo. The only thing is that leaving the expo there was a huge line and needed to wait for the bus for like 10-15 mins. I stayed at a hotel that was really close to the start line which was great as i had a nice easy walk, although it was expensive (like everything else in Chicago).The day of the race i had to get up really early to get to the starting line and started to see just how large the race was. There was security lines you had to wait in which went quick but was a pain and much different than other races i have been to (other than the Air Force Marathon which had metal detectors mainly because its on an active military installation) I got a little lost trying to find my way to the start corral. When the race started i immediately saw how large the race truly was. There were people everyone both people running and cheering. The aid stations were enormous and frequent. I started near the front of the pack in Corral C, and at the aid stations there was already cups everywhere and the road was so sticky from all the gatorade spilling from the cups and people dumping the bit remaining on the ground. I was disgusted as i had never experienced this before. The finish was great although very long and crowded. I got out of the way of everyone as soon as i could , relaxed for a few mins then went back to my hotel. Overall the race was not for me. I felt out of place in the humongous city and during the race. It was much to large for me to enjoy it. Would i run it again probably not, but it was a great experience. I will stick to more local and smaller races with less than 10,000 people and not go to races with 40,000+ people.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    wortholomew FIRST-TIMER '19

    weet race Chicago! This race was my first attempt at a world major, and it was an amazing experience. While very crowded, as one would expect with 45,000+ runners, race … MORE

    weet race Chicago! This race was my first attempt at a world major, and it was an amazing experience. While very crowded, as one would expect with 45,000+ runners, race day seemed to run smoothly. There was a wait for things like security checks or toilets, but it wasn’t too bad. Perhaps the hardest part was standing in the corral, inching forward to the start line as the waves started — but that’s still part of the experience with such a huge race.

    Once runners passed the start line, we were seldom alone again. The streets were absolutely packed for much of the 26.2 miles, so there was always someone around to chat or pace with. I read the city was expecting 1.7 million spectators, and while I didn’t exactly conduct a headcount, I wouldn’t be surprised if the crowd came up to or exceeded that number. With so much positive energy, volunteers, DJs/bands, and more along the course, the Chicago Marathon was a blast. I hope to be able to run it again in the future.

    Similar to the start, the finish area was crowded with runners and volunteers looking to help them. In short order, runners received their medals, a heatsheet blanket, a beer, and a bag of snack food. I did not attend the post-race party in Grant Park due to the deteriorating weather (cooling off/drizzle) and making other arrangements, but it seemed like a great scene from what I heard.

    I cannot speak to parking or race transportation. I stayed in a hotel not far from the festivities and walked. I’ve heard some hotels had shuttles available, but I don’t know firsthand.

    * Soak in the atmosphere. There was so much energy on the streets. It was amazing.
    * Allow yourself time for the race activities. The expo was packed starting at the entrance with security checks.
    * Grab a poster at the expo (at the entrance this year). It’s a great memory, and many people overlooked them or didn’t know they were there.
    * If possible, stay in town for a few days before or after the race to explore. * Plan for all of the weather. Race day was almost perfect. It was cool and a bit windy (ha!; Windy City), but I also got a solid sunburn before the clouds came back. It’s been hot and/or rainy in the past.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    aharry REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Everything about the Chicago marathon is fantastic! Very well organized. This is a huge marathon, but doesn’t feel that way. Logistics are easy, roads are wide so don’t feel crowded … MORE

    Everything about the Chicago marathon is fantastic! Very well organized. This is a huge marathon, but doesn’t feel that way. Logistics are easy, roads are wide so don’t feel crowded and park finish is easy. Great city, huge support and flat course. By far my favorite race.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
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    5

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    roisaac FIRST-TIMER '19

    The course was nice and flat, really only one hill at the end. Nice swag, I loved the medal and race shirt. The aid stations came at good times and … MORE

    The course was nice and flat, really only one hill at the end. Nice swag, I loved the medal and race shirt. The aid stations came at good times and they were all prepared for the amount of racers running through. Most of the course had tons of spectators cheering you on. The race had perfect weather. Start corals were good, being a slow runner, being in the last wave, it did take awhile to start but that didn’t bother me.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    5
    SCENERY
    4
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    4

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    Rebolation FIRST-TIMER '19

    Great atmosphere. Production did an outstanding job managing over 45,000 runners. It was somewhat frustrating on the time difference from Wave 2 to 3, over 30 minutes, but I guess … MORE

    Great atmosphere. Production did an outstanding job managing over 45,000 runners. It was somewhat frustrating on the time difference from Wave 2 to 3, over 30 minutes, but I guess there is nothing much to do.
    Lots of water & gatorade stops, almost every mile.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
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    5

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    slease1 FIRST-TIMER '19

    This was my first time running Chicago and my second marathon. My experience was much like everyone else but thought a couple of things were worth mentioning. We stayed at … MORE

    This was my first time running Chicago and my second marathon. My experience was much like everyone else but thought a couple of things were worth mentioning.

    We stayed at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive which coincidentally also served as a stop for the shuttle to the expo at McCormick Place. We went to the expo after we arrived on Friday and rush hour was just getting underway. We were able to get on the bus right away but it did take a little bit of time to get to the expo. On the way back there were huge lines of people waiting to take the shuttles back and we waited in line for more than an hour for our shuttle. Apparently there was a bad accident along the shuttle route, thus slowing things down even more in the heavy evening rush. While this isn’t the fault of the marathon, it should be noted that if you go later in the day on Friday you run the risk of delays getting back to your hotel. We were on our feet much longer than we wanted to be that day.

    As for the race it was great! Getting to Grant Park and the start was not a problem. Water stops were plentiful as were the spectators. I very much appreciated the crowds in the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods late in the race. They were lively and really lifted me up. It was nice to still see so many out cheering for us back of the pack runners. Post race it appeared that they had blocked off access to the party, which was disappointing to say the least. That said, they were handing out beers to runners as they were walking through the chute which made up for it…a little.

    I would definitely consider running Chicago again as overall it was a great experience.

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    MissPatRuns Nov 24, 2019 at 5:36am

    Congratulations, Stacy! I am a turtle...true back of the packer who will likely need the full time to finish. You mentioned the finish party being closed off, I wanted to… MORE

    Congratulations, Stacy! I am a turtle...true back of the packer who will likely need the full time to finish. You mentioned the finish party being closed off, I wanted to clarify whether after doing all that hard work and running for hours, would the finish party not be open to me and others at the back? I don’t like beer, so giving it out at the finish line would not work for me. I just would like to have whatever everyone else experienced (snacks, music, cheer, whatever) if I finish within the time. Thank you so much! LESS

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    slease1 Jun 15, 2021 at 9:02am

    We did not go to the post race party as it appeared they were trying to wind it down. According to the directional signs from the finish area they did… MORE

    We did not go to the post race party as it appeared they were trying to wind it down. According to the directional signs from the finish area they did have the path to the party blocked off. That said, I'm sure that there were other ways to get into it. If you read the info on their website it does list a closing time for the post race party which if I remember correctly was something like 4:00. Hope this helps. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 23, 2019 at 1:04pm

    Congrats on marathon #2 Stacy, you certainly know how to pick 'em! And yes, as you mentioned re: the lively crowds, the people of Chicago are amazing and definitely embrace… MORE

    Congrats on marathon #2 Stacy, you certainly know how to pick 'em! And yes, as you mentioned re: the lively crowds, the people of Chicago are amazing and definitely embrace their marathon. After the race and for the rest of the day, strangers on the street would see my medal, walk up to me and congratulate me — quite a feeling, and I hope you experienced the same. Thanks for your excellent review, and hope you have many more marathons (including four more Majors) in your future! LESS

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    slease1 Oct 23, 2019 at 1:12pm

    Mike, thank you for the kind words. Chicago really was welcoming and yes, I did wear my medal around town after and received congratulations as well. When I ran NYC… MORE

    Mike, thank you for the kind words. Chicago really was welcoming and yes, I did wear my medal around town after and received congratulations as well. When I ran NYC last year it was crazy how many people commented and congratulated me after the race. I am hoping to get the other 4 majors in at some point...maybe Berlin in 2020. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 23, 2019 at 1:16pm

    Wonderful, so glad to hear it Stacy! Good luck on your Six Stars quest, and look forward to following your continuing racing adventures here on RaceRaves!

    Wonderful, so glad to hear it Stacy! Good luck on your Six Stars quest, and look forward to following your continuing racing adventures here on RaceRaves!

    Brianarg FIRST-TIMER '19

    From an excellent Expo (except for Nike being out of sizes other than XXL), to an orderly staging of 46,000 people, to amazing crowd support and no hills, to an … MORE

    From an excellent Expo (except for Nike being out of sizes other than XXL), to an orderly staging of 46,000 people, to amazing crowd support and no hills, to an awesome medal and a free “26.2” beer…. this was an amazing experience! Final stretch on Michigan Avenue was so loud and energizing just when I needed it to reach my PR! Thank you Chicago 😀❤️🏃🏅

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    sarastew FIRST-TIMER '19

    Chicago was fun and large. Best part was starting at Grant park since so many of the hotels are very close. I was in Gate #1 which had a line … MORE

    Chicago was fun and large. Best part was starting at Grant park since so many of the hotels are very close.

    I was in Gate #1 which had a line that took almost 30 minutes to get through, then the hospitality tent was on the clear other end of the park. Not worth the expense when the tent was so far from the red corrals.

    After running NYC, then some smaller races, I felt drowned out in the crowd. There was plenty of crowd support, the water stops were plentiful, and the volunteers were amazing.

    The medal was somewhat basic, but on a prestige level of being one of the majors, its somewhat humbling. We also did the 5k the day prior which was a lot of fun. I probably won’t do this one again as its just too many people for me.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 23, 2019 at 1:01pm

    The Majors are definitely in a class by themselves, size-wise — energizing at times, overwhelming at others. And yes, it's easy to feel lost in those crowds. Luckily there are… MORE

    The Majors are definitely in a class by themselves, size-wise — energizing at times, overwhelming at others. And yes, it's easy to feel lost in those crowds. Luckily there are only six of them, and given the costs it's easy to space them out over time. Glad you enjoyed Chicago (3 cheers for that Grant Park start!); alongside Boston it's my favorite of the Majors so far, with London still to go. Congrats on earning star #2, and appreciate your helpful review. On to Boston! 🙌 LESS

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