Chicago Marathon Tips (Guide on How to Make It Your Best Race)

Guide To The Chicago Marathon

So you’ve decided to take part in the Chicago marathon! Well done you! Now, if you’re like me, you may be a little bit nervous about it.

I’m sure that’s how most people feel when they first decide to do something new and challenging.

So, in this guide, I will give you some tips about running the Chicago Marathon so you can have peace of mind.

Application Process

Here you can check what are the application deadlines, and how to get into the Chicago Marathon. The places fill up quickly, so submit your application as soon as the entry window opens.

Before The Race – How to Prepare

Before you begin the race, there are things that you should do to prepare yourself for it.

You don’t want to be running into problems during your marathon because you didn’t plan ahead properly. So here is what you should do before the race:

1) Get Your Medical Checkup Done – This is very important. If you haven’t had a medical check-up since last year, then make an appointment with your doctor now.

It’s also important to get any medication you might be taking checked out by your GP or pharmacist.

2) Make Sure That You Have All Of Your Gear Ready – You may think that you won’t need anything special to wear but you would be surprised at just how many different types of clothing you will need.

For example, you will need a hat, gloves, socks, shorts, tights, shoes, and for after, a jacket, a watch, a phone charger, a money belt, etc.

3) Book A Hotel Room – If you are planning on staying overnight near the course, book a hotel room as soon as possible.

You don’t want to find out after you arrive at the airport that there isn’t anywhere nearby you can stay.

And let’s face it – once you’re done you’re going to want a bed as close as possible

4) Figure Out How Much Money You Will Need – Before you leave home, figure out how much money you will need to spend during the event.

This includes buying food, drinks, souvenirs, and other items that you may buy along the way.

5) Set Up An Emergency Contact Number – In case you end up getting injured or having any sort of emergency, you want to be able to contact someone who knows exactly what happened.

So set up a number that you can use to call anyone you trust.

Getting To The Race

Getting To The Race

Once you have done all of the preparations, you are ready to go.

But before we move on to the next section, I wanted to give you a quick overview of the route.

The Course – The course starts at Grant Park, then heads north to Wrigleyville, south to Loop, west to Damen, then south to Bridgeport. The finish line is back at Grant Park.

The Finish – You will receive a medal, a finisher’s shirt, and a goody bag at the finish line. There will also be lots of food and drink available.

The Finishers’ Party – After the race, there will usually be a finishers party. This is normally held at a hotel such as the Hilton Chicago which will include music, dancing, and free food.

You can get to the start point through several modes of transport:

  • Free Shuttles From Downtown – These shuttles run every 15 minutes from 8 am until 2 am. They drop you off right outside the starting area.
  • Taxi – Taxi prices will vary from the pick-up point.
  • Buses – Buses run between downtown and the race site.
  • Driving – Parking costs about $30.00 per car. The parking lot is located in front of McCormick Place.

The Race – Once You Begin 

Chicago Course Profile And Race Strategy

Chicago has a flat marathon course. However, this doesn’t mean that it is easy. There are hills throughout the course, especially in Grant Park.

In addition, the weather can change quickly. So if you are looking for a warm day, make sure to check the forecast.

Start Slow

If you plan on finishing strong, you should concentrate on pacing yourself. It is easy to overdo yourself, especially when others try to hurry past you in the first half.

Instead of focusing on speed, you should focus on endurance.

That means that you should take walk breaks whenever necessary or simply run at a sustainable pace.

When you feel like walking, then walk

The Race Gets Empty By Half-Way

As soon as you cross the halfway mark, you will notice that the crowd begins to thin out.

However, don’t let this discourage you. Just because people aren’t lining up behind you anymore doesn’t mean that they won’t cheer you on.

So don’t worry too much. Keep going strong and you will reach the finish line with plenty of energy left.

Keep Hydrated

Make sure to stay hydrated during the race. Drink water regularly throughout the race.


Hydration Packs

Camelbaks or any other hydration backpacks are not permitted.

You may use a running belt or hand-held water bottle (but you may be asked to empty your bottle when entering Grant Park).

Use of Headphones

Headphones are permitted for use on the course.

However, you must always be alert to the surroundings and pay attention to announcements along the race.

Tips for Avoiding Stomach Issues During the Chicago Marathon

Race day anxiety can hit anyone of us! It’s perfectly normal to feel butterflies and nerves before the big race!

The best way to avoid the runner’s trots is to stay adequately hydrated and avoid sugary foods a day before your run.

There are 20 aid stations along the course, approximately one to two miles apart. Each aid station has toilet facilities as well as water and a medical tent.

Note how the aid stations are arranged along the course and plan how you’ll approach them if you have butterflies.

Once You’ve Hit The Finish Line

You did it! Once you hit that finish line you can take a deep breath and be super proud of yourself!

But you’ve just run a long distance so it is important to remember to stretch before and after the race. After all, you want to avoid any injuries.

It’s also important to eat something after the race. You need to replenish your body’s fluids and nutrients. Plus, you’ll need some fuel for the next day.

Note: Top finishers of marathons can earn a good amount of prize money! For the winner, there will be a $100,000 prize in Chicago. Course records will also be rewarded with a $75,000 bonus.

The Bottom Line

Hope these tips give you peace of mind for running the Chicago Marathon. It is an experience unlike any other. It’s a great way to see the city, meet new friends, and have fun.

The Chicago Marathon draws thousands of spectators. Are you one of those? Here is our guide on where to watch Chicago Marathon.

And after you’ve crossed off the Chicago marathon from your bucket list, here are other bucket list marathons in the US.

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