Chicago marathon handbook and costume

Expectations for the Chicago Marathon

Chicago marathon handbook and costume

My Chicago Marathon handbook with some of my costume…

My Race Participant booklet arrived in the mail, and I’m increasingly nervous/excited for Chicago this Sunday!


In mid-September, before the Blerch half, I spent too many hours reading other blogger recaps of the Chicago Marathon.  Besides noticing that almost all running bloggers are women, here are my expectations for Chicago:


  • The expo is huge but well-organized (and there is little to no chance I leave without buying something).
  • It sounds like a lot of people take public transport or even cabs to the start, so I will look into that option (although sounds like catching a cab at the finish is very difficult).
  • The weather can range anywhere from upper 40s to 90s – and this Sunday’s forecast is 50/50 on rain, temps ranging from 49 to 58.
  • Garmins will not work well for at least the first several miles due to all the tall buildings.
  • Congestion on the course is not so bad (although most were running around 4:00, so who knows what it’s like in the back of the pack where I will be).
  • The marathon route offers a good tour of the city.
  • There are nice, long fluid stations with almost a a full city block of Gatorade followed by a full block of water (the perfect arrangement).
  • There are lots and lots of spectators and they are very loud.  This will be an interesting change for me since most of my recent marathons have been relatively small and/or with sparse crowd support.  I’ve decided not to wear headphones and almost want to bring earplugs (sometimes noisemakers can be too loud), but I probably won’t.
  • The flat course causes cramping (something I’ve been anticipating since even considering Chicago, so I’ve been trying to train more on the flats than usual but still am probably going to suffer some new malady from the repetitive flats).
  • The slight hill at mile 26 seems shocking in comparison to the rest of the flat course.
  • I expect to finish in about 6 hours, give or take a little (hopefully take).  I will be walking a lot, but not quite as much as in Hatfield McCoy (crossing fingers!).
  • You get a fun box of packaged food at the finish (like at Disney).  You also get one free beer!
  • The finish party area is a long walk from the finish line (like .8 miles).
  • Kinda ugly medal but last year’s shirt looked good.
  • I won’t make it out of Chicago without eating deep dish at least once.


Check out Runner’s World Magazine’s Chicago Marathon Coverage for more info and tips, including a nice video overview of the course (caution: video will automatically start playing).  I had to do a separate Google search to determine if “360 Chicago” (formerly John Hancock Observatory) is actually different than “SkyDeck Chicago” (aka Willis (formerly Sears) Tower) and not just a different “experience” at the same location.  It is, in fact, a different building and view.  I might try to do one of those on Saturday, and/or the Art Institute.  Luckily I already have tickets to Second City for Friday night, so I’ll be doing at least one iconic Chicago attraction, besides the pizza.


What are your expectations for Chicago?  Have any advice about Chicago, running or otherwise?  Do you think that the woman on the cover of the 2014 Participant Guide knows she’s on the cover of the 2014 Participant Guide, and do you think she’s super psyched or embarrassed?  Are you excited The Walking Dead is also premiering this Sunday?  Share in the comments!

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