Overall Rating
Overall Rating (138 Reviews)
4.7
(138 Ratings) 🏆 (138 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

    sskoonce REPEAT RUNNER '23

    What a great day in Chicago. I had run it once before in 2016, and was back for the age group championships. It was a record setting day with Kelvin … MORE

    What a great day in Chicago. I had run it once before in 2016, and was back for the age group championships. It was a record setting day with Kelvin Kiptum setting a new record as we all know. I was so fortunate to meet him and Sifan Hassan, the women’s race winner. What a thrill to attend the reception after the race and meet not only the winners but so many others. I had a 7 min PR and my first sub 4 hr marathon. The course is very flat and fast, the spectators are amazing and their energy really helps when you’re wondering where that finish line is. With a start and finish in Grant Park, it’s one of the easiest races to get to and from, with many hotels within a mile of the park. The weather and conditions were near perfect for race day. Abbott had tents at the finish for the age groupers, good food, massages, lots of support. As always I met many runners and made new friends. Some great sightseeing including the river architecture cruise and good meals with groups of runners, I highly recommend running Chicago if you have the chance.

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    gaebeenz FIRST-TIMER '23

    It did not disappoint. The crowds were extraordinary. Extremely organized for 47,000 participants. It was easy enough to navigate. The expo was impressive. MORE

    It did not disappoint. The crowds were extraordinary.
    Extremely organized for 47,000 participants. It was easy enough to navigate.
    The expo was impressive.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    danielhocken1 FIRST-TIMER '23

    There were people EVERYWHERE - even when the course was "lonely" from less spectators, there were a thousand runners beside you. Well organized and fun day! MORE

    There were people EVERYWHERE – even when the course was “lonely” from less spectators, there were a thousand runners beside you. Well organized and fun day!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    5
    SCENERY
    4
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    3

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    keifekm FIRST-TIMER '23

    I came into Chicago excited. I ran for RMHC and having this additional sense of purpose was amazing. This group of people…. So committed to this wonderful cause and to … MORE

    I came into Chicago excited. I ran for RMHC and having this additional sense of purpose was amazing. This group of people…. So committed to this wonderful cause and to the sport.

    The race was amazing. I didn’t think I would ever describe a marathon as fun but here I am now! The course is fast and flat. You really don’t even need music. The crowds are amazing. Each neighborhood was representing (I think 28 or 29?) and in full force. The signs were great fun “Rats don’t run this city. You do!” It was such an amazing vibe.

    RMHC is a wonderful charity to run for. The pasta dinner, before/after race accommodations and party were top notch. I highly recommend Chicago.

    While I have a lot of goals to do new Marathons I’m getting really tempted to register with my qualifying time for next year. I think I will! 😉

    DIFFICULTY
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    jboke FIRST-TIMER '23

    Fantastic crowd support. The sheer amount amount of runners and spectators can be a bit overwhelming but the energy is fantastic. Everything is fairly well organized, but I heard that … MORE

    Fantastic crowd support. The sheer amount amount of runners and spectators can be a bit overwhelming but the energy is fantastic.
    Everything is fairly well organized, but I heard that bag check in 2023 was a bit of an issue. I was surprised with the long bathroom lines considering this a WMM and the corrals were a bit congested at cutoff – all of this maybe due to the increased number of runners this year.
    A bit disappointed with the race swag and offerings from the sponsor, but the expo had plenty of alternates.

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    From the moment I got to Chicago on Friday morning, there was a buzz everywhere for the marathon. The Expo was nice but with 48K runners too crowded for my … MORE

    From the moment I got to Chicago on Friday morning, there was a buzz everywhere for the marathon. The Expo was nice but with 48K runners too crowded for my tastes, so I got my stuff, and made a quick pass thru the vendors. The 5K on Saturday was well run and started in the same place as the marathon so I had an idea how Sunday would go. The marathon kicked off with perfect temps and an energized field. The energy from the runners and the crowd was infectious and I started off a bit faster than I would have liked but after 3 miles I settled into my pace and was cruising for 21 miles until a cramp slowed my pace around the 22M mark. On the course the Water/Gatorade stops were frequent and perfectly spaced IMO, porta-johns could have used a little more signage to easily identify locations, and the crowd support was PHENOMENAL! People were 3-4 deep at every mile…yelling, cheering, dancing, playing music, offering water, oranges, candy…and shots 🙂
    The final half mile or so as you climb over the bridge and run down the chute to the finish is an amazing site and so worth it! A MUST race if you are a runner!

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    johnbizzell REPEAT RUNNER '23

    Love Chicago and love this race. 4th time runner and I’ll be back next year. Crowd support is great expo is awesome and so many friends to run with. After … MORE

    Love Chicago and love this race. 4th time runner and I’ll be back next year. Crowd support is great expo is awesome and so many friends to run with. After party is always a blast as well.

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    jimmynam FIRST-TIMER '23

    Flat and fast course with a big crowd - weather this year was nice for running. It was very easy to manage my effort since the terrain never changed - … MORE

    Flat and fast course with a big crowd – weather this year was nice for running. It was very easy to manage my effort since the terrain never changed – pancake flat course. Some things I would pass on to future Chicago Marathon Runners:

    1) Spend extra money to stay within walking distance to the start and finish. This way you can avoid using the gear check.
    2) Gear Check PickUp Sucks – the pick up process needs improvement. They put the bags in bins, so volunteers have to dig through them to locate bags. The gear check areas are sorted by waves, so while the lines at Wave 1 Red PickUp are about 30+ minutes deep – there is nobody at Wave 3 Blue. And I imagine that when the Blue runners came trickling in, Red gear check is close to vacant. Use some more real estate and line up the bags in order like they do at an Ironman. I saw that one volunteer was explaining to a woman how they likely misplaced her bag – not a very satisfying interaction was happening for that runner.
    3) Morning Race Entry/Security Check takes a while – it took me 20+ minutes to make it through the queue. And that contributes to the prerace anxiety. I get it, there are a lot of runners trying to get to the start. Maybe have an express line for runners without gear bags?
    4) Aid Stations are Great
    The course is fast, and while the water & gatorade stations are not spread out evenly – there are a plenty of aid stations in about 0.8 to 2 mile intervals. And since the course is flat, you can see them coming. The volunteers are great. The aid stations are top-notch with drinks on both sides of the road. Gatorade in the front – with orange banners indicating the start of the sport drink tables – served in gatorade cups. Followed by a blue banner and water in white cups. You can’t mistakenly get the wrong fluid.
    The only problem came from some clueless runners who just stop and block others trying to get water. These are the same clueless people that stop without signalling when they see friends on the course. Or the spectator that thinks its a good idea to cross the road. Runners should learn how to run in packs – it would be something good to include in the runners guide. Or maybe I’m just running so slow I’ve got more nooby runners around me? In any case, for a neighborhood marathon the field opens up pretty quickly. For Chicago, you are going to have thousands of runners around you for the whole duration.
    5) Expo & Bib Pickup – The bib pick up was pretty efficient, but the Expo was so crowded. Overall, you have to expect some problems with so many runners racing. But they got the race off on time and moved almost 50k runners through the city.

    DIFFICULTY
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    mojolobo83 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Flat course with only minor inclines around the bridges. Last 400m has a medium size hill to run up. Great crowd support throughout until after Chinatown where it can become … MORE

    Flat course with only minor inclines around the bridges. Last 400m has a medium size hill to run up. Great crowd support throughout until after Chinatown where it can become scarce as you loop back around, then roars back after mile 24. Gear check drop off was easy but getting gear returned took forever (volunteer management issue). Bathrooms a plenty so do not feel you need to use the toilets as you enter through security. Gate security did a great job (I heard other gates had delayed entry times, not sure why).

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
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    3

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    bluejay45 FIRST-TIMER '23

    I was able to run this for American Cancer Society and was happy with my timing. The weather was perfect for a PR day. Missed it by a couple of … MORE

    I was able to run this for American Cancer Society and was happy with my timing. The weather was perfect for a PR day. Missed it by a couple of minutes, but that’s OK. There will be others!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    5
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    slomojohn REPEAT RUNNER '23

    Probably the most accessible World Marathon Major, Chicago should be a bucket list race for any semi-serious marathoner. The race is great, the town is welcoming, and if you aren't … MORE

    Probably the most accessible World Marathon Major, Chicago should be a bucket list race for any semi-serious marathoner. The race is great, the town is welcoming, and if you aren’t having a good time here, you aren’t trying.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
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    kmusheno FIRST-TIMER '23

    Amazing racing experience but not the full service experience that I thought that it would be for a race costing $240. Pros: - Flat fast course with tons of support … MORE

    Amazing racing experience but not the full service experience that I thought that it would be for a race costing $240.

    Pros:
    – Flat fast course with tons of support that is primed for PRs. So much energy as there was not a single spot without a large crowd to cheer you on through all 26.2 miles. Occasionally it can be a bit problematic, though, as the crowds (and even a pedicycle taxi obstructing the entire course at one point) would cut runners off in the middle of the road. Only “hill” that I saw people having trouble with was the last quarter mile of the race.

    Cons:
    – Scenery. Chicago is not a pretty city and the course does not go through some of the areas that could be showcased for a better time (e.g., Lakeshore Drive). Yes, you run by The Chicago Theatre, over the Chicago River, past the United Center, etc., etc. but this is about as urban/concrete jungle of a race as you can get.
    – Smell and Cleanliness. Chicago is a dirty city with tons of dead rats and other small animals littered along the course. The smell of raw sewage was a frequent experience. (I have done other big city marathons and none of them were ever this bad.)
    – Inconvenient and Underwhelming Expo. For having such a large expo with tons of vendors, it didn’t really feel like it was worth the time. Lots of long lines for the few exhibits open to all runners. On top of that, everything seemed to be shutting down early when we were there early afternoon on Saturday (even though it went to 6 PM). Recommended parking was in an underground garage underneath McCormick Place, the site of the expo, that was just a massive maze to navigate. Organizers promoted a $12/event parking but you had to wait in a 100+ person long line for 2 payment kiosks as you went out. If you try to pay at the exit gate, parking becomes $25.

    Mixed Bag:
    – Swag – Race t-shirt was a bizarre teal green, appeared to be cheaply made by Nike (almost pinny jersey like mesh) and not true to size. Expo was out of size XLs when I tried to swap out. They did offer a nice frameable poster to everyone at the Expo, however. Medal was meh, neither good nor bad.
    – Pre-Race – I get that it’s a major race with a huge number of people, making logistics next to impossible, but I felt like the whole staging system was a mess. Going through gates on the opposite end of Grant Park from my corral just didn’t seem to make sense. Combine that with having access to the corrals blocked off 30 minutes before the start of your wave meant you were stuck in a tight space for as much as an hour, making it impossible to warm up and stretch before the start.
    – Post Race Nutrition/Hydration: They had all of the basics: Water, Gatorade Endurance, Muscle Milk, Banana, Apple, Donut, Gummi Bears, Protein Bar and Finisher Beer.

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    MattyIce FIRST-TIMER '23

    Had a fantastic time running in Chicago this weekend. Was able to run a personal best at 3:47 thanks to a beautiful cool morning and a manageable, flat course. Crowd … MORE

    Had a fantastic time running in Chicago this weekend. Was able to run a personal best at 3:47 thanks to a beautiful cool morning and a manageable, flat course. Crowd support was top notch, every block of the 26.2 was crowded in with cheering people. No need for headphones on this race. Only complaint is the men’s medium shirt runs very small and is a weird fabric. Seems like for $240 we should have gotten better swag.

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    Plecerf FIRST-TIMER '23

    Flat and faster than most The crowds are amazing Never alone when its gets harder in the later miles Great way to see the city Great organization given the size … MORE

    Flat and faster than most
    The crowds are amazing
    Never alone when its gets harder in the later miles
    Great way to see the city
    Great organization given the size of the field

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    5
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    5

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    Great race. Great crowds. Well supplied. PR for me. Nike really screwed everyone with some crappy finisher jackets. But, would run again. Great town and very welcoming to runners. MORE

    Great race. Great crowds. Well supplied. PR for me. Nike really screwed everyone with some crappy finisher jackets. But, would run again. Great town and very welcoming to runners.

    DIFFICULTY
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    semodlin FIRST-TIMER '22

    Chicago was a blast! The course was basically a non-stop party! There were very minimal parts where there were no people, so I felt like I had crowd support the … MORE

    Chicago was a blast! The course was basically a non-stop party! There were very minimal parts where there were no people, so I felt like I had crowd support the entire time! Most of the course is flat since very few parts where there was an elevation change. The elevation change was very minimal, so it wasn’t tiring, and my knees/legs didn’t get hurt. Weather was absolutely perfect! I’ve heard from friends that this race always has perfect weather, so I’m glad I was able to confirm the rumors are true.

    Now the negatives regarding my performance: I had knee pain from my summer training, and it came back sadly. I had a hornet sting me around mile 18, ouch! I fell down around mile 20, which definitely didn’t make my knees happy. I had two large blisters on my big toes because I wore shoes that didn’t work with me.

    This is definitely a race I want to redo!

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    I came to Chicago to PR because I have heard its a great course. The weather at this race is usually a coin flip but I lucked out and it … MORE

    I came to Chicago to PR because I have heard its a great course. The weather at this race is usually a coin flip but I lucked out and it was great. My luck wasn’t so good in that I had Covid two weeks prior and it really kept be from hammering the pace I wanted to run.

    The good of this race- the course was super flat. The set up of the start and finish in Millenium Park was nice. Bag drop off and pick up was easy. The hotel I stayed at was very close to the expo and my wife was able to walk out of our hotel and see me at mile 23 and walk another block to see me at mile 24 so that was convenient. The course went through various neighborhoods so it was a nice tour of Chicago.

    The bad- the start was a little congested. I had trouble getting up to speed the first mile or two and there were several bridges with some strange carpets that made the footing a little bit wonky. The race shirt may be the worst race shirt I have ever seen for a large marathon. It was like someone sewed two shirts together and left a giant seam in the middle. Very odd and disappointing.

    Of the Abbott Marathon Majors in the US, this definitely comes in third. Not as prestigious as Boston, not as fun as NYC, but if you want a fast time, this is the place to run.

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    taytaybrownie FIRST-TIMER '22

    This race is truly the best race I’ve ever done. The course, crowd support, volunteers, swag, expo, absolutely every is perfect. Definitely plan to be back again and would recommend … MORE

    This race is truly the best race I’ve ever done. The course, crowd support, volunteers, swag, expo, absolutely every is perfect. Definitely plan to be back again and would recommend for anyone, especially a first time marathoner!

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    5
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    aimeeault FIRST-TIMER '22

    Running the 2022 Chicago Marathon is easily one of the top 5 days of my life. The course is mostly flat, the crowd support is full of energy, the pacing … MORE

    Running the 2022 Chicago Marathon is easily one of the top 5 days of my life. The course is mostly flat, the crowd support is full of energy, the pacing teams were fantastic, the sun was out, the air warm but not hot… just perfection. I wasn’t aware of “Mount Roosevelt” going into it, the hill in mile 26 right before the finish line… the race photos there are hilarious, but it doesn’t matter, you can actually see the finish line from there, so as much of a struggle it is, the end is literally in sight 🙂

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    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.

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