Overall Rating
Overall Rating (111 Reviews)
4.8
(111 Ratings) 🏆 (111 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.2
SCENERY
4
PRODUCTION
4.7
SWAG
4
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

    Profile photo of Chris Macintyre
    ChrisMacIntyre FIRST-TIMER '22

    Race Kit Pickup- The venue was smaller than the other majors but still COVID Race Day Corral-The start corrals had enough depth to house everyone Race Start- On time and … MORE

    Race Kit Pickup- The venue was smaller than the other majors but still COVID Race Day Corral-The start corrals had enough depth to house everyone
    Race Start- On time and as advertised
    First half- pretty flat and fast. The building do mess with the GPS.
    Aid Stations- plenty of aid stations stocked with H2o and Electrolytes
    Second half- lots of people cheering, that was really impressive
    Finish- it was pretty smooth transition from crossing the line to were they usher you out to get your drop bag.
    After party-Busy! but there were lots of locations for those who wanted to crab a beer.

    DIFFICULTY
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    Mali REPEAT RUNNER '22

    The biggest crowd of spectators from mile 3 to finish. Highlight of the race was to run in my hometown city where I ran my first Marathon 40 years ago. … MORE

    The biggest crowd of spectators from mile 3 to finish. Highlight of the race was to run in my hometown city where I ran my first Marathon 40 years ago. Race did not disappoint.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    dionnewaugh FIRST-TIMER '22

    Chicago is one of the most well-organized races of its size that I've ever seen. The expo is huge and full of amazing runner things so plan to spend time … MORE

    Chicago is one of the most well-organized races of its size that I’ve ever seen. The expo is huge and full of amazing runner things so plan to spend time there. On race day they have tons of people helping get you to your right corral and they’re all super friendly and helpful. The crowds are great throughout the entire course, but there are several times they swell and you run through a tight cluster. It still makes it fun though. I met several fun runners, many of whom were running their first marathon and Chicago is a great first marathon. It’s also a fun and flat course for anyone looking to PR. Also, you can fuel on deep dish!

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
    SCENERY
    3
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    5

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    TJax FIRST-TIMER '22

    The Chicago Marathon featured excellent race organization, communication and event security. The expo was top notch and the participant shirt is my favorite out of all of the events that … MORE

    The Chicago Marathon featured excellent race organization, communication and event security. The expo was top notch and the participant shirt is my favorite out of all of the events that I’ve participated in. As noted in other reviews, the course itself is one of the flattest you’ll find and is a great way to tour 29 city neighborhoods. The spectator energy was awesome throughout most of the course but mile 22-24 is a little quiet, less visually interesting and mentally the most challenging part of the race (for me), so plan for that. Race day 2022 brought beautiful skies and perfect, perfect race weather. If you love a big city race with lots of energy, Chicago is not to be missed and may have been my favorite event to date,

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    runningpumpkin FIRST-TIMER '22

    Overall: One of the best races I've ran. Well organized and a fantastic way to see the city. The ENERGY was amazing. Expo: The expo was located at the convention … MORE

    Overall: One of the best races I’ve ran. Well organized and a fantastic way to see the city. The ENERGY was amazing.

    Expo: The expo was located at the convention center. Easy to get to by public transportation or uber if you’re staying near the river. It was well organized. They have streamlined everything by providing you a barcode and by the time you reach your station – your bib is waiting for you. Great vendors at the expo as well.

    Start area: The start and finish are in the same location – Grant Park. The entry areas and recommend entry times are determined by your wave. Everyone is in the same area in terms of bag check and port-a-potties so you can see friends in other waves before you start. Bathroom lines were long but overall moved at a good pace.

    Race: Chicago starts ON TIME – it was a smooth and organized start.
    The race course itself is fun – you run through the city and it’s overall flat – there is a mini hill right before the finish line (probably seemed bigger than it was since it’s at mile 26 haha). Some of the bridges have grates – can be odd to run over but it’s only a small portion of the marathon so it wasn’t a big deal. Lastly -the ENERGY was amazing – it was almost a constant flow of people cheering. Some area were louder than others but still a good time. The final mile was my favorite – it was so LOUD that I couldn’t hear my legs crying. One of my favorite finish lines, ever. =)

    Final thoughts/recs:
    –GPS goes crazy – It’s city running with tall buildings so have a pace band if you’re focusing on pace
    –I loved that Chicago’s start time is in the morning for everyone – I am a solid slower mid pack runner but my finish time was in the afternoon and it was still sunny.
    –Pay attention to the weather – it was cold at the start (40s) but warmed up to the 60s mid way. So bring extra clothes to toss/donate. Other years, I’ve heard it was humid.

    It was not a PR for me but a strong race given some set backs in training. I would definitely be back, Chicago.

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    sydneylross FIRST-TIMER '22

    A flat and well organized race with all of the crowd support you'd imagine! Here's the kicker - if you live somewhere with lots of hills? Avoid them and train … MORE

    A flat and well organized race with all of the crowd support you’d imagine!

    Here’s the kicker – if you live somewhere with lots of hills? Avoid them and train flat! Sounds silly but my hamstrings have never felt so tight! The course was easy but there was no muscle variation and I never used my quads until after mile 20 and oh boy did I notice that!

    This is obviously a world major, so there is lot of pre-planning and pre-race details to make sure you have completely figured out beforehand but oh boy does it run smoothly! Figuratively and literally. The crow support is so amazing and the energy is real!

    Definitely check out a charity team for guaranteed entry and put your miles to a good cause.

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    4

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    inverseown FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first major and the one thing to know is to get to your race starting point as soon as possible to beat the lines at the bathrooms. … MORE

    This was my first major and the one thing to know is to get to your race starting point as soon as possible to beat the lines at the bathrooms. The expo was excellent and the logistics for the race were executed very well.
    Crowds were constant and a bonus when running with a pace group is that you get extra cheers.
    Medal and shirt were somewhat lackluster for a major, but this is definitely on the must race list.

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    sohobrad FIRST-TIMER '22

    The inspiring skyline, fun neighborhoods, excellent organization, fantastic water stations and even better crowd support were met by perfect weather in 2022. The course is flat with just enough bridges … MORE

    The inspiring skyline, fun neighborhoods, excellent organization, fantastic water stations and even better crowd support were met by perfect weather in 2022. The course is flat with just enough bridges to work some new muscles during the race. Less than perfect? Long lines for portapotties before race. I’m a New Yorker, so I liike NYCM, but Chicago is both beautiful and civilized. Run, don’t walk, to the lottery for Chicago.

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    todd17406 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Great organization for a Marathon of this size. I believe 41K runners in 2022. Pre-race email communication is great. I was near the end of Wave 1 in Corral 'E'. … MORE

    Great organization for a Marathon of this size. I believe 41K runners in 2022. Pre-race email communication is great. I was near the end of Wave 1 in Corral ‘E’. It took us about 18 or 19 minutes to get to the starting line. I was impressed we were able to run at our normal pace very early on . Course takes you through some of the most iconic and beautiful architecture in the World. Though my fitness level wasn’t where I hoped and therefore was kinda slow for me, it didn’t detract from the magnificence of this race. Amazing course support and energy from the crowd! Only slight negative: the swag was disappointing for a $240 race. Basically a T shirt that was too small for me. Tried to exchange but they were out of the size I needed.

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    LBCgirl FIRST-TIMER '22

    Very well organized, loved 90% of the course (a bit boring around miles 21-24), fun atmosphere, decent expo, and bonus..the shirt was super cute and fit great! A bit costly … MORE

    Very well organized, loved 90% of the course (a bit boring around miles 21-24), fun atmosphere, decent expo, and bonus..the shirt was super cute and fit great! A bit costly if coming from out of town, but one worth the investment. The pre-race communication was minimal until just a week or so before race day (would have liked more), virtual goodie bag was mostly just ads, and wish there had been more food and drink offerings at the “27th mile”, but other than that loved every minute!

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    thestudadam FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my 3rd World Marathon Major having already completed New York City and Berlin. I'm going to give my own thoughts and perspectives on this race but I highly … MORE

    This was my 3rd World Marathon Major having already completed New York City and Berlin. I’m going to give my own thoughts and perspectives on this race but I highly highly recommend the article on this site “Racing and Spectating the Chicago Marathon” https://raceraves.com/chicago-marathon-course-tips/. It gave lots of great insight on the course and also gave very good tips to help my family maximize their ability to see me on the course. The only thing I would add to their advice is it is easy to see your runner at mile 1 as well then just walk a few blocks east. My family utilized the L train to see me 6-7 times on the course.

    I’m sure I see this race through a bit of rose colored glasses due to a hugely improved PR and getting my first Boston Qualifying time, but I feel confident that this race would have stood out regardless of how well my personal race day turned out.

    Rather than comparing this race to other smaller local races which this of course blows out of the water, I’m going to compare it to the other Marathon Majors which is more apt comparison.

    EXPO/PACKET PICK UP:
    Getting to the Expo was very easy. It was held at the McCormick event center south of Grant Park/The Loop. The bus system can drop you off at the door of the building but most of the “L” Trains will get you about 2-3 blocks away and it is a very short walk to get there. There was a long but fast moving line to get into the expo for participants when I got there right when it opened Friday morning but 75 minutes later when I was leaving that line was completely gone. When you get past security/bag check runners have to go to one of the abundant ipad/tablet check in stations and type in your info, you are then sent to your race bib/bag pick up area. This whole process took less than 5 minutes. You can then enter the expo proper. This was in one of several gigantic airplane hanger size rooms at the event center. It had your standard expo fare just in a much more scaled up capacity. I would say it was only slightly smaller than NYC but much bigger than Berlin. Every running vendor you could imagine was selling gear, food and gadgets and giving out freebees. At the very back was the 2nd runners booth where you could pick up your participant shirt, again, this took mere moments, all you had to do was show them your bib. I don’t usually spend much money at expo’s but I always go big on gear at Majors. This year I still did but almost none of my gear says “Chicago Marathon”, that phrase was owned by the official gear sponser, Nike. Nike makes good products (although way overpriced), their apparel selection this year however was terrible, truly terrible. I always like to get a hoodie for the race, they didn’t make any. Lots of people like to get a marathon windbreaker type jacket, they were sold out before the event. I like to get several T-shirts that promote the race, especially one with the course map on the back. They didn’t even make a normal T-shirt. Only Tech shirts and race singlets (all about $60). I’m not sure I have ever seen a worse apparel selection at any race I have been to. Thankfully, Nike was not the only gear vendor there though, sadly nobody else can use the phrase “Chicago Marathon” so all the gear says “Run Chicago” or “Run 26.2 Chicago”, this came from both Aesics and Under Armor. These guys were doing business like crazy, their prices were half that of Nike and they actually made hoodies, and normal cotton T-shirts, and my personal favorite shirt with a course map on the back. I had literally dozens of people ask me where I got those items while I was carrying them around. If you look online before the race and don’t like the official gear then make sure you get to the expo as early as possible before your size is picked over at the smaller gear vendors. The expo vibe though at any major is electric and full of worldwide excitement, sign your name on the giant banners, take pictures in front of course maps, enjoy.

    Parking/Access: Either get a hotel near the start/finish (Grant Park-very expensive) or take the L-Train(Subway). Don’t drive there. Getting into the start area was a breeze with your bib, zero line and very easy. The start area is Grant Park (Really big park). This meant tons and tons of room to warm up and stretch with nobody around. My personal advice is to get an air b&b along the blue line. Most people stay along the red line, however the blue line has the advantage of still taking you straight to downtown and it is the only train line that goes to O’hare airport so you will save lots of transport time.

    T-Shirts/SWAG: Continuing my bashing on Nike I was really displeased with the material of the participant shirt, it honestly reminded me of an old 80s/90s football jersey, rough material with the large holes in it. I like to race in the participant shirt and I had to wear another softer shirt underneath to prevent chaffing. The shirt design was fine, black with a green Chicago Marathon logo on the front (see picture). The medal seems to follow a similar look each year, silver with city scenery on it (see photo). I really liked the medal this year and I think the ribbon on it looks sharp as well. Looking at past years the medal can be a bit hit and miss in my opinion but this year they got it right, although not sure how you can cover a medal in Chicago landmarks and not put the bean/cloud gate on it.

    Now that I am done talking about gear it is time to start covering how the Chicago Marathon race day experience and logistics knocks it out of the park it every single aspect.

    Aid Stations: Aid Stations in this race were the best and longest that I have experienced. There were 20, yes 20 aid stations on the course, every one of them well stocked with Gatorade and water, some with Bananas or energy gels. This meant you had an aid station around every 1-1.5 miles. The next thing to know about the aid stations is that they are long, really long. I estimate 30 people spaced 5 feet apart on each side of the road giving out Gatorade, then another 30 people on each side giving out water. Aid stations are something like 300 feet long. It is normally a good idea to skip the first person at an aid station to avoid congestion, in Chicago you can skip the first 20 and still be fine. I also applaud them for trying to reduce waste.
    In Berlin they use plastic cups that can be recycled to reduce trash, but plastic cups cant be squeezed to create a smaller opening that is easier to drink from. Chicago uses paper cups which are easy to use and apparently are all made from some 100% easily biodegradable material that fully dissolves in less than 2 years.

    Course Scenery/Elevation Difficulty: There is a reason the Women’s World record was set on this course. It is really really flat. The scenery is pretty bland though. Lake Michigan is on on your right for part of the first quarter of the race and it was cool to run through Chinatown but you are mostly just running through a city, not past the sites. The start and finish area are pretty but other than that this course was made for speed not sightseeing.
    That being said the support on the course is constant and incredible. You won’t really notice the lack of a view because you will be too busy looking at the hundereds of thousands of people cheering you on. The shortest route blue line was well marked and easy to follow and most of the course was kept clear of spectators crowding the runners. The streets were very wide and I never felt crowded, except for the first half when I was tucked behind the pacers I was following, once I eased in front of them the course felt full but never crowded. In several areas people would cross when there were no barriers but I didn’t see any collisions.

    Weather: This race is held in early to mid October so the weather could be anything from 35-85 during the race. In my case we got upper 40’s changing into high 50s to low 60’s during the race. This was perfect running weather. This even led to a new American Women’s record being set. This perfect weather helped me to a new 8 minute PR. But of course the weather is luck, 3 of the 4 years before my race the temperatures were in the upper 70’s to mid 80’s and was getting dangerous for people.

    Race Management: I’m not sure I can find much to really criticize about the race. Communication was frequent but not overwhelming from the race and really every single thing about the race day experience felt well thought out. The Chicago Marathon App was really easy to use and my family used it extensively to track me and another family friend. I always had plenty of room to do everything I needed or wanted to do on race day, before, after, and during the race.

    The bathroom situation was actually quite reasonable. There were maps everywhere showing you where they were (also easy to pull up on your phone). The shortest lines are at the bathrooms right after you get through the initial bag search security, make use of them. There are more bathrooms past the 2nd layer of security where you have to show your bib but these were getting more crowded as people funneled there. Unlike NYC and Berlin gear check was free and easy. Look for the banners with your bib color and find your #. Tie your gear tag to your bag (you can only use the clear plastic one they give you at the expo) and turn it in. Tons of volunteers and easy to drop off and pick up.

    The start corrals were guarded to make sure you were in your proper area. These close 10 minutes before your wave starts, zero exceptions or you start at the very back of your wave which could be 15 minutes later and behind much slower people. There were not exceptions to this. They had tons of security and 6 foot fences making sure people did not get through. When they closed the corrals I saw lots of people sprinting up to the entrances and they were all turned away. Finish your bathroom breaks early and get to your corral on time, they don’t mess around in Chicago. They had fun pump up music and an MC getting people pumped up before introducing the elites on video boards they had throughout the start area. They did a good job making it feel like an epic event in the start area. Each group starts in a 2 minute gap, with roughly 5-6 groups per wave. This means that the metered start takes well over 30 minutes.

    The finish area was easy to navigate, was extremely spacious and just a straight shot back to the start area where you can pick up your gear. The family meet up area is near the start line and bean/cloud gate where you will of course want to snap a picture. Very well organized and it wasn’t overly long. Once you got out of the immediate finish area and back into the start village you had all the room in the world to relax or lay down. They also were giving out free beer at the finish from a local brewery if you can manage alcohol on a dehydrated empty stomach.

    Pictures for the event if you pre-order are reasonable $40 for a full digital download of all of your pictures. I ended up with 126 pictures with me in them (some very similar). There was an official photographer after the finish where you could take your picture with your medal as well. Once you finish I would also grab your own camera/cell phone from your gear check and snap a few pictures around the start area of the fountain and the city skyline in general behind you.

    Overall this race isn’t the biggest, run through the most amazing scenery or the most elite compared to other majors but it is still epic and the actual race day experience and logistics might be the best. I would highly recommend it as part of both your 6 star journey and just a race that you do as you travel the country/world.

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    Profile photo of Charlie Grisham
    dqcvdtpda VOLUNTEER '22

    Everything was amazing from the weather to the people I interacted with. It’ll probably be a while before I can run this myself, but the volunteer experience was amazing. MORE

    Everything was amazing from the weather to the people I interacted with. It’ll probably be a while before I can run this myself, but the volunteer experience was amazing.

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    Taylorrunsny FIRST-TIMER '22

    overall nice race- was unhappy with the amount of crowd support that kept running Infront of runners on the race course. had to dodge like 3-4 people running across the … MORE

    overall nice race- was unhappy with the amount of crowd support that kept running Infront of runners on the race course. had to dodge like 3-4 people running across the course. the food at the end could have been better and supplied in clear bags to walk away with- my hands were full and i was exhausted. lots of spectators. nice race medal.

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    titans1fan92 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Chicago Marathon is one of the best. I was lucky enough to get in on the lottery system. Witch I believe is roughly a 50% chance. You can also get … MORE

    Chicago Marathon is one of the best. I was lucky enough to get in on the lottery system. Witch I believe is roughly a 50% chance. You can also get in through time qualification and a charity.

    First the convection was huge. It reminder me of a comic con convection. Huge hall with tons of people. It was very efficient and well organized. Only negative was I went later on Saturday and I could tell some of the clothing items were selling out. I would recommend to go earlier in the week if you looking to shop at it.

    On race day I left my hotel at 6:15 am. It was about a mile away. Once I got through security and to my coral it was about 7. They recommend you get their 2 hours before your start time. However, you could get away with 1-1.5 hours before your start time. You do have to go through security, but it was fast and efficient. Only negative about pre-race was the bathroom lines were longer then my previous marathons. They could use some more toilets’ at the start.

    The race its self was amazing. Really easy course. You start by going north out of the downtown area for about 8 miles. Then the next 5 you come back to the downtown area. You then go west towards the United Center. Then you slowly start going south east till mile 23. After that its back north through downtown and the finish line witch is also in Grant Park (same as the start line). Little to No hills on the course.

    Their is about 40,000 people all running the marathon during this race. The course is crowded with other runners the whole time. I did not mind it, but I can see this as negative to some.

    In 2022 it was perfect temperature mourning in the 40s. Afternoon in the 60s. However, you never know in the Mid-West what you will get. Aid stations were every 1.5 miles or so. Had ton of Gatorade, Water, Toilets, and even a medical tent with Biofreeze and other helpful items. Later ones had Bananas and a couple had Gels.

    I hurt my knee a tad so I did not get a personal best. However, this is a course I can see many people getting a personal best on. Especially if the weather is good.

    The crowd support lives up to the hype. The whole race their was always a ton of people cheering you on. The people of Chicago really came out to this. Volunteers were helpful at start, finish line, and at the aid stations. They were excellent. Finally the medal was really cool. Nothing to fancy, but it represents Chicago well. T-shirt was fine.

    I would recommend this Marathon to anyone. There a reason this is a World Major and one of the most popular marathons in the world. It extremely well organized, easy course, and excellent crowd support. 5/5 for Chicago.

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    jphil853 FIRST-TIMER '22

    After sustaining a low-grade stress fracture four weeks prior to the race, I did not anticipate that I would be able to finish or even participate. With my doctor's permission … MORE

    After sustaining a low-grade stress fracture four weeks prior to the race, I did not anticipate that I would be able to finish or even participate. With my doctor’s permission to run-walk, I participated and am so glad that I did!

    Chicago Marathon lives up to the hype. Being a world major race, it is very well organized and easy to navigate. I did not spend a lot of time reviewing the course since I didnt think I would be running this year. I ended up running an additional .66 miles, so I’d encourage runners to consider looking for the shorter corners so that you dod not add distance like I did.

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    Ironeagle51 FIRST-TIMER '22

    1st of all....Splure for the Skyline Hospitality Tent as it was extremely nice! You receive a gourmet buffet breakfast and lunch, escort to the starting corral ~30 mins before start … MORE

    1st of all….Splure for the Skyline Hospitality Tent as it was extremely nice! You receive a gourmet buffet breakfast and lunch, escort to the starting corral ~30 mins before start time, dedicated gear check and bathrooms. It wasn’t crowded and very spacious. After the race I relaxed on the grass and enjoyed my lunch. Please note the Tent closes at 4pm so if you are a back of the pack runner you have to have a plan to run a little faster:-).
    This was my 2nd marathon and 1st WMM. The crowd support was impressive! Maybe I missed them but I didn’t see consistent mile markers.
    The volunteer were great at the water stations. The beautiful weather made the perfect. I would definitely run Chicago again in the future.

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    nydogman10 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I prefer the smaller venue races. But if you are a runner, you must do this race at least once. The streets are lined with people cheering from start to … MORE

    I prefer the smaller venue races. But if you are a runner, you must do this race at least once. The streets are lined with people cheering from start to finish. The entire city celebrates the marathon and runners. It was real fun! But be prepared to deal with crowds and traffic.

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    I ran the Chicago Marathon for a charity, the Chicago police Memorial foundation. A very worthy cause that helps families of police officers that were killed in the line of … MORE

    I ran the Chicago Marathon for a charity, the Chicago police Memorial foundation. A very worthy cause that helps families of police officers that were killed in the line of duty.

    The course was packed with people from start to finish. For me it is only second to New York City but definitely you should add this race to your list. Luckily the temperatures were very cool to start although it didn’t warm up a little bit towards the end just a wonderful day for a race.

    Everything went smoothly, the logistics were all taken care of and a good time was had by all.

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    runningmicah FIRST-TIMER '22

    Phenomenal race that every marathoner should experience. Follow the blue lines and the red carpets on the bridges. Use the crowd energy for success. The train system makes getting to … MORE

    Phenomenal race that every marathoner should experience. Follow the blue lines and the red carpets on the bridges. Use the crowd energy for success. The train system makes getting to the events a breeze. This is definitely a PR course.

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    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.

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