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Chicago Marathon: Here’s what you need to know

Athletes pass State Street’s Chicago Theater during the 2017 race.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon

On Sunday, October 7, over 45,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries will take part in the 41st edition of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon—an event that winds its way through downtown Chicago as well as neighborhoods on the city’s North, West, and South sides.

Whether you’re participating in the race, rooting on an athlete, or simply trying to avoid the crowds and traffic, here’s what you need to know about the 2018 Chicago Marathon.


Chicago Marathon

What time does the race start?

This year’s event kicks off promptly at 7:20 a.m with the wheelchair race to be followed by three waves of runners starting at 7:30, 8:00, and 8:35 a.m. Participants are expected to complete the 26.2-mile race distance within the allotted time requirement of 6 hours and 30 minutes. Here’s a detailed event schedule.

What is the marathon route?

Both starting and finishing at opposite ends of Grant Park along Columbus Drive, the race will snake its way through 29 Chicago neighborhoods—stretching north to Sheridan Road, west to Damen Avenue, and south to 35th Street.

The 2018 route follows the same general layout as in years past, but with a few minor tweaks compared to 2017. For example, runners will cut south on Loomis instead of Ashland and cross the south branch of the Chicago River on Cermak instead of Halsted.

The changes were designed to improve the race day experience for participants and enhance the safety and security of those on and near the course route, according to organizers.

What streets will be closed?

Over the weekend, motorists and pedestrians can anticipate traffic congestion and longer travel times due to street closures and crowds along the race course. Chicago residents and visitors are encouraged to consider alternate routes or public transit.


Chicago Marathon

Starting early in the week, some downtown street and lane closures will already go into effect in and around Grant Park. These include Columbus from Roosevelt Road to Balbo Drive as well as Balbo Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive. Additional closures in this area will take place Saturday along Columbus, Ida B. Wells (formerly Congress), Jackson, Balbo, and Monroe.

Neighborhood closures along the 26.2-mile route will begin at approximately 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. Streets are anticipated to be reopen by 4:30 p.m. that evening or when officials deem its is safe to do so. Roads through Grant Park will reopen by Monday morning.

Additionally, a parking ban will be in effect along the race course starting late Saturday night. Vehicles that are not removed by 1 a.m. Sunday will be ticketed and towed to the city’s nearest auto impound.


Getty Images
Runners start along Columbus Drive during the 2017 Chicago Marathon.

Where is the best spot to watch along the route?

General spectators will not be granted access to Grant Park’s start and finish areas on race day. Instead, event organizers encourage viewing elsewhere on the course. Recommended areas include Grand Avenue between Columbus Drive and State Street, State Street between Grand Avenue and Jackson Boulevard, and the official Bank of America Cheer Zone at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

Spectators looking to reunite with their runners after the race are welcome to do so at the Biofreeze 27th Mile Post-Race Party, located at Butler Field along Columbus Drive. Here, alphabetical signs will allow friends and family to track down their respective athlete by name. Guests will be required pass though security and bag screening checkpoints.

Can I watch the marathon on TV or livestream?

Follow the action on race day with NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago, which will provide complete TV and live streaming coverage of the event. The televised broadcast airs from 7 to 11 a.m. while the online streams will go live at 7 a.m. and conclude 3 p.m. Additionally, live audio coverage can be found on AM radio station 670 The Score between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.

What to leave at home

Participants, volunteers, staff, and spectators will have to pass through security to enter Grant Park. Prohibited items include but are not limited to: oversized bags (backpacks, suitcases, rolling bags), hard-sided coolers, costumes covering the face, pets (except for service animals), alcohol, illegal substances, weapons, chairs, bicycles, and drones.

What is the weather forecast?

The forecast for Sunday calls for temps in the high 50s to mid 60s with a chance of scattered thunderstorms. Historically, the date experienced regular highs of 66 degrees and lows of 48 degrees.

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