Area guideTips and advice
Katie Sagal

Guide to the Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is one of the most famous marathons in the United States. It is a fall race that attracts runners from around the world to its competitive course. It’s one of the six World Marathon Majors, making it one of the most prestigious races, too. The Chicago Marathon is held every year in October, falling on October 13 for 2019. This marathon is one of the largest races by the number of runners in the world, and thousands of spectators flock to the course as well. Running the marathon, cheering on a friend or loved one, or just watching a bit of the race? Check out this handy guide to the Chicago Marathon.

When is the Chicago Marathon?

The 2019 Chicago Marathon is held on October 13, 2019. It takes place on Sunday to minimize disruptions to normal traffic patterns because portions of the city’s main thoroughfares close for the duration of the race. As a visitor who isn’t running the race, be aware that streets will be closed, and impacted buses will be re-routed or not run at all. Additionally, several L stops may experience highly elevated traffic.

What is the Chicago Marathon Course?

The Chicago Marathon is a loop course, beginning and ending at Grant Park. The race is especially well-designed for those who want to see large portions of the city, as the course then routes runners through 29 different Chicago neighborhoods. The first few miles are in downtown Chicago, and the loop heads north up LaSalle. For a complete map of the 2019 Chicago Marathon course, see here. Image of City, Metropolis, Urban, Flare, Light, Sunlight, Road, Path, Street, Person, Nature, Outdoors, Sky, Office Building, High Rise, Cityscape, Condo,

Things to Know About the Chicago Marathon

For Runners...

  • The course is timed for runners who finish within 6.5 hours. Timing is by chip.
  • The course will re-open after 6.5 hours to vehicular traffic, so exercise caution if you’ll be running for longer.
  • For water, be sure to use fuel belts instead of Camelbaks (the latter and things like it are prohibited on the course).
  • You are welcome to run with headphones, but be aware of your surroundings at all times to avoid accidents.
  • Medical aid stations are located throughout the course, including a large medical tent at the finish line.
  • Mile markers and kilometer markers are available throughout the course.

For Spectators...

  • Spectators will not have access to the start/finish line. You’ll need to greet your runner at the designated Runner Reunite area.
  • Cheer your runner on at various points throughout the course if possible. The loop has a north, west, and south component. Therefore, you can choose one part of the loop to focus on.
  • The best viewing areas are Grand Avenue between Columbus and State (at the beginning of the race) and the Bank of America Cheer Zone (closest to the finish of the race).
  • Download the Bank of America Chicago Marathon App to track your runner. You can also see real-time weather, read elite athlete profiles, access an interactive course map, and much more.
  • Consult the full Chicago Marathon Spectator Guide for more information, especially on how to navigate the CTA to get to each mile area.

Image of Building, City, Cityscape, Urban, Outdoors, Nature, Sky, High Rise, How to Follow the Marathon Remotely

Unable to attend the marathon in person? You can watch broadcasts of the race on NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago. You can also listen on the radio at 670 The Score Sports Radio. Keep in mind that you can also track runners via the app if you have someone running but can’t make it to Chicago and/or the course itself.

Save on Chicago Attractions

If you’re going to be exploring Chicago after running the Chicago marathon—or you’re a spectator who is building the race into a whole vacation—pick up a Go Chicago pass. You’ll save up to 55% on admission to the best Chicago attractions from the Art Institute and Museum Campus institutions to tours, cruises, and more.

Share Your Adventure with Us

Tag @GoCity or use the hashtag #GoCityPass in your vacation photos and we'll feature you on our page. Follow the Go City Instagram and Facebook pages for competitions, special offers, and events and inspiration for your chosen destination, too!

Love this article? Why not share it:

Buy with confidence

Free cancellation

Plans can change, we get it. All non-activated passes are eligible for a refund within 90 days from your purchase date.

Find out more


Confused? We're here to help!

See our FAQs

We're kind of popular, but don't just take our word for it.

Have a 5% discount, on us!

Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, trip inspiration and attraction updates straight to your inbox.

  • Thick check Icon