Oct 5, 2022 - Things to Do

Local advice for Chicago Marathon runners, spectators

woman standing outside wearing sunglasses, smiling

Training went mostly well. Photo: Lindsey Erdody/Axios

👋 Hi, Axios Editor Lindsey Erdody here with Chicago Marathon tips and tricks.

Catch up quick: I will be among the 40,000 marathon runners descending upon the Windy City this weekend. I asked you for advice, and you really came through.

For restaurant recommendations, Kyle S. shared his strategy of going to The Cheesecake Factory because you're guaranteed to get a lot of food.

For spectators, the main advice is to use the L or ride bikes.

  • Brad H. advises, "Brave the crowd near mile 1 to try to catch a glimpse early and watch the wheelchair racers and elites (might be too packed to find your runner), take Red line from Grand to Addison and walk east to mile 8.5, take Red or Brown back south to the Loop to see them at mile 13 (or grab a donut at Do-Rite), take Red all the way south to Sox-35th at mile 23, then meet back after the race along Michigan Ave."

Other viewing tips: Either stay inside the route or outside of it. Don't try to cross back and forth, because as Chris A. says, "If you try to cross over, you are doomed."

  • Also, carry helium balloons and/or flags.

For runners, look for the free snacks.

  • Per Mike B., who finished the Chicago marathon in 2011 and 2012: "There are also many spectators who bring goodies all along the way. Donuts, tacos, pretzels, chips, bananas [disclaimer: I loathe bananas], trail mix, beer down on the southern end, maybe other places."

Threat level: According to Brad H., the end of the route has something referred to as "Mount Roosevelt."

  • "After a ridiculously flat course, you have to run up a gentle hill at mile 26 when you turn off Michigan to Roosevelt. It feels worse than you'd think, especially if you're struggling. The slight downhill to the finish line is very nice, though."

Yes, but: Lee C., who has run two marathons, referred to that stretch as "Heart Attack Hill," but he also shared a motivational message that will be in my head when I'm struggling on Sunday.

  • He suggested breaking the race into several sections — starting the first eight miles slow ("Take note of the fast starters. You will be passing them all starting at about mile four"), paying attention to my form in the second eight miles and staying hydrated and eating snacks in the third eight miles.
  • Then: "At Mile 24: Are you kidding? After ALL THE TRAINING AND EFFORT? You are going to cross that line if you have to do it on your hands and knees. It is time to simply be TOO DUMB TO QUIT."

The bottom line, per Lee C.: "Congratulations. I knew you could do it. No one can ever take this away from you, and I promise you … YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME."


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