After finishing Chicago three times, I consider myself somewhat of a veteran to the course and it's quirks. Here are my favorite tips for running (and enjoying) the Chicago Marathon!
Get there early. Getting to Grant Park can take some time. It also takes longer to get inside the starting corrals since the heightened security following the Boston Marathon bombing. Once you're there, make your bathroom stop and warm up a little. The corrals get crowded quickly, so make sure you find your spot before you have to fight the masses.
Slow down! In my opinion, this is the most important piece of advice for this race. The race starts in Grant Park and runs through the Loop with insane amounts of spectators. The rush of adrenalin and the noise of the crowds can make you want to go faster than you had planned to. Remember: You still have 20+ miles to go!
Stop weaving in and out! This race is huge with 40,000+ runners. Yes, you will have people around you. The whole time. The first half of the race is jam-packed with runners. In my opinion, the second half of the Chicago Marathon is the best time to start passing people and going around slow runners. Just be sure to give them a heads up you're coming. I can't even count how many times I've bumped into or been bumped by others.
Look up and look around you! The city of Chicago is gorgeous with lots of unique architecture and sights to see (in my non-biased opinion :))
Follow this blue line. The city marks the shortest path to take on marathon day. How cool is that?
Be prepared for what I like to call the concrete jungle. Following Chinatown at mile 21, runners head through a less busy section of the city near highways. This section of the race can be mentally draining. For me, this is the section that I have to fight the urge to walk and to keep up my pace. Hang in there! Mile 25 puts you back on the path towards the Loop and almost at the finish line!
Ride the crowd and the loud cheers on Michigan Ave. towards the finish line. Hang tough for Chicago's only hill at Mile 26 (it's small, but feel massive when you've already finished 26 miles). Congrats! You have completed one the largest marathons and one of the World Marathon Majors!
I hope all the new Chicago Marathon runners fall in love with this race as much as I did. (but not too much love because I would like to get into the lottery next year, thank you very much)
For more good information regarding this race, this article is a great guide to what runners can expect at each mile of the marathon.
Have you run a World Marathon Major race before? Which one?