Overall Rating
Overall Rating (38 Reviews)
4.8
(38 Ratings)(38 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
1.9
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

    ihafij FIRST-TIMER '18

    First time running in Chicago. Very fun city. Didn't like that you had to be in the start corrals so early and no port a pots available. Was not able … MORE

    First time running in Chicago. Very fun city. Didn’t like that you had to be in the start corrals so early and no port a pots available. Was not able to go until mile 6 due to the long lines. Seeing the city was nice!

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    GoRunGolf FIRST-TIMER '17

    The volunteers seemed clueless. The course was ‘ok.’ It was so hot, Runners were vomiting mid stride and passing out. I will say that the pre race tent was amazing … MORE

    The volunteers seemed clueless. The course was ‘ok.’ It was so hot, Runners were vomiting mid stride and passing out.
    I will say that the pre race tent was amazing and worth every penny.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
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    3
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    2
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    2

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    rbfrmrville REPEAT RUNNER '18

    Chicago is always my favorite marathon to run because of the hype of it being a major and having over 45k runners. This year's course was a little hillier than … MORE

    Chicago is always my favorite marathon to run because of the hype of it being a major and having over 45k runners.

    This year’s course was a little hillier than last year and in my opinion the weather was better. 2017 weather was 85 degree and sunny and 2018 weather was about 55-60 degrees and a little rain and wind.

    The crowd was great, as well as, the water stops about every 1.5-2 miles.

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    mira5b FIRST-TIMER '18

    Awesome marathon. The positive energy from the crowd and other runners was off the chart. Very well organized, especially when you consider there are close to 45,000 runners! Water/Gatorade stations … MORE

    Awesome marathon. The positive energy from the crowd and other runners was off the chart. Very well organized, especially when you consider there are close to 45,000 runners! Water/Gatorade stations were well placed and well manned. Crowd support was unbelievable with very little of the course not covered with people, often two or three deep.

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    rrusso6 FIRST-TIMER '18

    First of all, it's flat for people from areas with hills, but for someone from the Gulf South, this is NOT flat lol It was rainy and cold, which made … MORE

    First of all, it’s flat for people from areas with hills, but for someone from the Gulf South, this is NOT flat lol It was rainy and cold, which made the bridges slippery, but otherwise was a good race. Finish line could’ve been a tad more organized. NYC just has me spoiled. It’s still a great race though! Highly recommend.

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    bjrobinette FIRST-TIMER '18

    Great crowd support throughout the race, but very crowded streets at times. I spent a lot of time and energy running around walkers in the middle of the road and … MORE

    Great crowd support throughout the race, but very crowded streets at times. I spent a lot of time and energy running around walkers in the middle of the road and avoiding spectators. BUT, the organization is excellent, awesome expo, and cheering crowds for the entire 26.2. There is a reason over 40,000 run this race. Just don’t expect a lot of elbow room.

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    mjmag REPEAT RUNNER '18

    I can't say anything new about this race except that it never disappoints! And my recommendation to anyone running it is to ditch the headphones! I finally did this year … MORE

    I can’t say anything new about this race except that it never disappoints! And my recommendation to anyone running it is to ditch the headphones! I finally did this year in my fourth year in a row running it and really enjoyed the crowds in all 29 neighborhoods as well as the awesome smiling, cheering, helpful volunteers.

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    alpacquing FIRST-TIMER '17

    It was 90s all the way thru the course and I PR'd before Big Sur. This is my 3rd star to complete the six world marathon majors. ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** … MORE

    It was 90s all the way thru the course and I PR’d before Big Sur. This is my 3rd star to complete the six world marathon majors. ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

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    jmskafidas FIRST-TIMER '17

    If this is not already on your "must do marathons" list, you best add it towards the top! From the moment you enter the expo center you are swept up … MORE

    If this is not already on your “must do marathons” list, you best add it towards the top! From the moment you enter the expo center you are swept up in excitement the of the event! If you’re not able to stay at a hotel close to downtown don’t fret, you are still able to easily access the start line using public transportation. They do an amazing job with organization in terms of the corrals. Be sure to submit your best half marathon or marathon time, as you will otherwise be placed in the very last corral and have awhile to wait to kick off your race. Regardless, there’s no better way to see the ins and out of this amazing city. The crowd embraces your from the very start to the very end of the race, which is the best motivation of all!

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    pollygolightly2 FIRST-TIMER '17

    Words cannot begin to describe The Chicago Marathon. It was excellent. All the way around. My performance may have been less than desired, but it was a great race, and … MORE

    Words cannot begin to describe The Chicago Marathon. It was excellent. All the way around. My performance may have been less than desired, but it was a great race, and I am already signed up for next year.

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    pkroon FIRST-TIMER '14

    What an awesome experience it was! My whole family came out and cheered for me as I improved more than a min/mile from my previous best marathon time. It was … MORE

    What an awesome experience it was! My whole family came out and cheered for me as I improved more than a min/mile from my previous best marathon time. It was very well organized—and it has to be with over 45,000 runners involved. Definitely make this a destination race, and plan time to see the city while you are in town.

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    ShawnBeazy FIRST-TIMER '15

    Chicago (the race) is HUGE, so you will be in a crowd for about 25 miles. As a result, there's not a lot of room for maneuvering. Crowd support is … MORE

    Chicago (the race) is HUGE, so you will be in a crowd for about 25 miles. As a result, there’s not a lot of room for maneuvering. Crowd support is the best I’ve ever seen, with people along every inch of this fantastic, flat course. You get to see the 29 neighbourhoods of Chicago and feel that Midwestern welcome. Run this race—you won’t regret it.

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    karenfuss FIRST-TIMER '17

    I like the beginning of the race, crossing over the bridges over the river. I feel that the last half of the race has very little to see as someone … MORE

    I like the beginning of the race, crossing over the bridges over the river. I feel that the last half of the race has very little to see as someone who is not familiar with Chicago. It was a beautiful day except for the extreme winds before the start. The volunteers and water stops were great. Having pictures next to the fountain and seeing the sunrise over the park in the morning was fantastic.

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    dmpg1127 FIRST-TIMER '17

    This was the best of the two Marathons I've done (the other being NYC). The organization was awesome, the support was the best. The logistics all around were perfect. The … MORE

    This was the best of the two Marathons I’ve done (the other being NYC). The organization was awesome, the support was the best. The logistics all around were perfect. The weather was warmer than expected and I had some health issues on the course. If I ever repeat a full (I’m not doing many) this would be the one.

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    rbfrmrville FIRST-TIMER '17

    -Flat course -Great fan support -Water/Gatorade every 1.5 to 2 miles -This was my first full marathon and even though the weather didn't cooperate (it was a hotter day) I … MORE

    -Flat course
    -Great fan support
    -Water/Gatorade every 1.5 to 2 miles
    -This was my first full marathon and even though the weather didn’t cooperate (it was a hotter day) I finished and am going to apply for the lottery again next year

    DIFFICULTY
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    Maniac5377 REPEAT RUNNER '17

    The race starts by the waterfront. Then, it goes into the downtown buildings. The signals will throw off your GPS watches on multiple occasions and almost everyone will end up … MORE

    The race starts by the waterfront. Then, it goes into the downtown buildings. The signals will throw off your GPS watches on multiple occasions and almost everyone will end up with an extra mile on their watches. Course is flat for the most part, but does have quite a few bridges to run over and some are over metal that are covered with carpets. There’s quite a number of pot holes, so need to watch out for the footing. Medal is great and post race beer and food are wonderful.

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    JoJoRunner FIRST-TIMER '17

    I loved Chicago Marathon! Having run Berlin two weeks before with drizzling rain, Chicago was warmer and dry. Perfect (almost a bit two warm for my liking) fall weather. In … MORE

    I loved Chicago Marathon! Having run Berlin two weeks before with drizzling rain, Chicago was warmer and dry. Perfect (almost a bit two warm for my liking) fall weather.
    In comparison with Berlin everything was bigger (well, expo in north America’s biggest exhibition centre- how can you beat that?) but also further out/ apart from each other. Race corals were stricter enforced. I really appreciated the number of different pacers in every coral. I wanted to make it a 3:05h and stuck with the pacing group for the first miles but felt it wasn’t my pace and slowly made up my way to the 3:00h group. The volunteers (plenty of isotonics and water) and the crowds were so uplifting and cheering. Did well for 30km but then I had to understand that 2 marathons in two weeks are not that easy and I had to slow down. Finished strong with 3:07:23h which improved my PR by 2:20min and I will be back in 2018.

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    dsbland FIRST-TIMER '17

    The Chicago Marathon is everything I love about running and should be at the top of everyone's running bucket list. The expo was amazing, the best I have ever attended. … MORE

    The Chicago Marathon is everything I love about running and should be at the top of everyone’s running bucket list. The expo was amazing, the best I have ever attended. I have enjoyed every expo I have attended, I really enjoy spending time and talking to the attendees as well as the vendors. Chicago was amazing, and not just because of the number of people involved. The layout was done in such a way that there was plenty of room to move around in spite of all of the people wandering about. There were also a lot of interactive areas at the expo, from places to leave messages to other runners to a place to sit and watch the course video being played on a continuous loop. Goose Island had free beer and it seemed like every major gear maker had Chicago branded shirts for sale, definitely plenty of opportunities to be separated from your money.
    I stayed at the Chicago Hilton which was right across the street from the course start and finish in Grant Park. There were plenty of restaurants around the hotel to choose from and the hotel had an excellent pasta buffet the night before the race. Getting to my corral was as simple as walking across the street and through a metal detector. I was honestly surprised the security wasn’t tighter given the shooting in Las Vegas having just taken place. My only complaint about the start area is the potties were not accessible once the corrals started to fill up, there was no way to fight back through the crowds to get to the potty area if you needed to go in the last hour before the start.
    The course itself was magnificent. As reported by many before, the tunnel and surrounding buildings prevented most GPS watches from functioning correctly. My watch had me 2 miles further than I was on the course and showed me finishing with over 28 miles on the day so I guess I got an unofficial ultra! But, the course was so well marked I was never unaware of my position. Of course, the thousands and thousands of spectators that lined the entire route made for all the distractions I needed.
    The course itself was virtually flat with the most impressive climb coming at mile 26 before turning to the finish line. I am still amazed at how many people lined the course, cheering all of us runners on our way. There were plenty of landmarks to see on the way and there were no boring parts of the route. I was disappointed in not being able to see much of Wrigley Field, but the city of Chicago was definitely the star of this race.
    As the day turned to noon, the heat came up into the upper 70’s and many of us were hit by cramping in the last few miles. The sudden elevation change at mile 26 had me nursing both hamstrings cramping and my left calf trying to seize up. Of course, this is an indication of poor fueling on my part and not the fault of anything or anyone involved in the race. I loved the passion and dedication of the people involved in putting on this event. I watched crowds of volunteers meeting in the park the day before, getting prepared for the race and setting up tents and tables. And then all of the people who came out all along the course to cheer on the runners was an even more amazing thing to see and be a part of. The Chicago Marathon should absolutely be a part of everyone’s race wish list, I look forward to running it again one day.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 11, 2017 at 7:21pm

    Your headline says it all, congrats Scott! Absolutely agree that aside from maybe Boston, Chicago is a tough one to beat – and I love the fact that Grant Park is so accessible before and after the race. Sorry to hear you had some cramping issues on Mt Roosevelt, but glad they came too little too late to keep you from appreciating the city, basking in the cheers and enjoying every minute. Because you're absolutely right – chances like Chicago don't come along very often. Thanks for the terrific review!

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    Lorelei FIRST-TIMER '17

    Expo: the expo was easy to get to. We drove there and parked. No problem. However, had we checked in to our hotel, it offered shuttle bus service that ran … MORE

    Expo: the expo was easy to get to. We drove there and parked. No problem. However, had we checked in to our hotel, it offered shuttle bus service that ran often. It was large and filled with all kinds of runner delights. There were talks. They handed out free posters. There were lovely merch choices to drain your wallets. Come early because things do sell out. I missed out on a coffee mug that wouldn’t have fit into my overflowing mug cabinet anyway. It’s the perfect place to meet people you’ve been chatting with on social media.

    Do not miss out on the Bank of America area. You can leave messages for runners there that showed up on big boards at the halfway point and at mile 25. These messages are also emailed at the end so the runner always has them.

    Packet pick-up was easy. If your XS like me, you’ll be the only one in line for your shirt. If your XL like my hubby, again, you’ll be the only one in line.

    Swag: I loved the blue shirt we received this year. The design was simple – my preference. And the logo was placed higher so that the bib did not obscure it, if you chose to run in it. The medal was a classic design. It matched my London medal quite nicely.

    Race: 45,000 runners. An endless sea of humanity. Our wave started an hour and a half after the elites, give or take. This is another great time to meet people and learn life stories. The course was gorgeous and ever-changing. YOUR WATCHES WILL NOT WORK RIGHT! The tunnels throws it off right from the start. Afterwards, the buildings interfere. There was plenty of aid long the course. Seemingly never-ending. The crowd support was fantastic except for a long stretch after Chinatown. Maybe spectators couldn’t get there as easily. Maybe they were bored by then. I expected never ending shouts, but it was crickets here until the end where the excitement resumed.

    Wear your name on the front of your shirt. They love to yell out your name and that is energizing.

    It’s not as easy to see Wrigley Field. Boo!

    TV/Celebrity runners: the news was all about the marathon. You really feel like you’re the visiting celebrity. And if you stay at the host hotel, you will see them and possibly meet them. We saw Paula Radcliffe, Jordan Hasay, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and many others.

    Hotel: the Hilton Chicago was literally across the street from start and finish. This was especially nice at the end when you wanted a shower and a bed. Our room had two full baths! Imagine our surprise considering we chose the cheap room! Since many people gathered here before and after the race, potty breaks and shower breaks were easy and nice.

    Parking: instead of paying $75/day the hotel wanted, we chose a lot around the corner for $20/day. It was a 5 minute walk max from hotel. Worth the savings.

    Eating out: Ryosushi! A block away from the beaten path of Michigan Ave. Awesome sushi. No crowds.

    This was well run, well organized. A must do for the serious and non-serious runners alike. Get into the lottery and save your pennies. Make all your reservations ahead of time. Well worth it.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 11, 2017 at 6:52pm

    Awesome review & photos as usual, Lorelei! (Though I have to ask... whose Boston jacket did you lift? 😉) And a very nice description of the entire race weekend. I was big-time lucky in that my friend who hosted me in 2012 lived in an apartment complex overlooking Grant Park, but the host hotel sounds like a wonderful experience – what a great opportunity to be able to bump into the elites. And I love the fact that packet pickup was streamlined for the "tallz" and "smallz" demographic. 😁 Congrats on your PR and on notching your second World Marathon Major – Chicago will be a tough one to top!

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    Lorelei Oct 12, 2017 at 2:22am

    Thanks. I know my reviews can be long but I try to provide as much info as I can.

    The Boston jacket is actually my London Marathon jacket! My prized possession!

    You really were lucky to have had a place over Grant Park. Hotel expenses were my largest expenses. Eeek.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 12, 2017 at 11:02am

    Your reviews are always great! And how cool, I didn't realize the London jackets looked so similar to Boston, I wonder if that's intentional. Hopefully I'll have a chance to earn one myself... some day! :)

     
    YanisNanashi FIRST-TIMER '17

    Chicago Marathon is really TOP of the TOPS! After having run Berlin Marathon 2 weeks ago which was also awesome I have to admit that Chicago beats Berlin by a … MORE

    Chicago Marathon is really TOP of the TOPS! After having run Berlin Marathon 2 weeks ago which was also awesome I have to admit that Chicago beats Berlin by a little. First of all I fell in love with the expo which is huge and perfectly organized. No waiting at all and many possibilities to take pictures in front of huge photo-walls. The race was also perfectly organized. Water and energy drinks every 2 or 3 km and gels along the route. All volunteers were so friendly and cheering like hell! The atmosphere was the best I´ve ever experienced, spectators all along the 42,2km – Berlin is good, but Chicago is better! The only things which I have to criticize is the number of toilets before the start and that the finish is not that emotional, but ok – finishing in Berlin running through Brandenburg Gate is unbeatable.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 10, 2017 at 2:41pm

    Very nice, congrats Jens! Glad you had such an epic experience. The expo was solid when I ran in 2012, but it sounds like they've made it even better since then. And yes, the spectators at Chicago are hands-down the nicest and most supportive I've seen here in the States – for hours after the race, folks would approach me on the street and congratulate me on finishing the marathon. That said, I'd agree with you that nothing beats running through the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin done, Chicago done – can't wait to see what's next on your World Marathon Majors schedule!

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