Marathons are brilliant for many reasons: they keep you fit, they offer a rush of competition, and they have a strong sense of community.
One of the most famous marathons in the world is the Chicago Marathon, one of the six World Marathon Majors.
Well over 40,000 runners participate in it annually, all sharing a terrific and energizing experience.
But how can you be one of them? How do you get into the Chicago marathon?
First formed in 1977, the Chicago Marathon always takes place on either the first or second Sunday of October.
Interestingly, applications for the next year’s marathon open almost immediately after the current year has finished.
From late October you can apply to run in the next Chicago marathon, but you must be quick – because they close at the end of November.
You only have a month to get your application in. This may seem like a lot, but when it’s almost a year in advance of the actual race, it’s understandable if people easily miss it.
It’s not just time limits that you’ll be battling either, though! There are a maximum of 45,000 entry places to have, and they go to whoever gets in their applications first.
Keep this in mind! It’s best not to submit your application at the end of the entry window, as the places may have already filled up by then!
Also, there are two types of entry that you can get: guaranteed and non-guaranteed.
We’ll get into what they mean later, but the non-guaranteed has a slightly later application date, so keep that in mind!
Basic Entry Requirements
However, there are a few certain boxes that you’re going to have to tick before you can get into either of those categories.
There’s no getting around these, so make sure you meet them!
- You must be 16 years or older come the day of the race. If you’re under 18, however, you will need the permission of your parent or guardian.
- You must be able to complete the marathon distance of 26.2-miles in six hours and 30 minutes – at most! If you can’t meet that specific timing, then try practicing more.
- You must not sell your entry and bib number to someone else. If you’re lucky enough to get in, don’t use it as a chance to make money from those who weren’t fortunate enough. If you’re caught doing this, you will be disqualified.
- You must show a government-issued photo ID when picking up your participation packet.
Meet all of these? Not planning to sell off your entry? Great, you’re on your way!
But how much is it going to cost you to enter? The price can be quite high, but it’s worth it – and all the entry money goes back into running the event.
- For US residents, it will cost you $230 to enter.
- It will cost a bit more for those outside the US, at $240.
This small difference keeps the race quite a global event, encouraging those from all over.
Entry fees can change, so it’s best to check the official Chicago Marathon website for up-to-date information.
Guaranteed entry is where you’re definitely going to have a place on running day. There are a variety of ways that you can get such a sure thing.
1. International Tour Program
People who don’t live in the US may want to join one of the many official international tour partners that work with the Chicago Marathon, which will guarantee a place.
You purchase a tour package, which includes the cost of entry, as well as travel and accommodation.
Sadly, not all countries have approved tour partners, so you may not be able to go this route.
If you can, though, it offers not only a guaranteed entry, but also a sense of homeland community.
2. Shamrock Shuffle
This is an 8k race that is run by the Bank of America, who also sponsor the Chicago Marathon.
If you have finished the Shamrock Shuffle at least four times since 2008, you can get a guaranteed marathon entry.
However, you must also be signed up for the Shuffle that’s happening the same year of the marathon you’re entering.
3. Legacy Finisher
If you’ve finished the Chicago Marathon at least five times in the last 10 years, then you can get guaranteed entry next time.
This is very impressive, given that you’ll have to be doing it most years to get the bonus!
4. Time Qualifier
If you can run the course in these brackets, you’re guaranteed a place.
5. Canceled Previous Entry
If you got entry last year but had to cancel through the proper methods, then you can guarantee entry this year. You still have to pay, though!
If you don’t fit into any of the above, you can still apply.
However, your chances are much less certain!
Essentially, it’s a lottery, depending on luck and how many other people have entered. Take note, that the application deadlines still apply.
What Is the Prize Money for Winning the Chicago Marathon?
The top marathon finishers earn well. There will be a $100,000 prize for the winner. Runners who set the course record in Chicago will also receive a $75,000 bonus.
The Bottom Line
There you have it! If you’re looking to enter the latest Chicago Marathon, joining thousands of other running enthusiasts, then you now know exactly how you can.
Apply as early as possible, get training, keep your fingers crossed, and who knows? You may well just make the cut!
And if you manage to get in, here you can find tips on preparing for the Chicago marathon.
But if you don’t get in, here are some other bucket list marathons in the US for you to try.