It's big, real big:
- 45,000 registered participants
- 1.7 million estimated spectators
- 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries represented
- 26.2 mile course through 29 Chicago neighborhoods
- $13.4 million raised for charity in 2011
Whether you're ready to race or just joining the cheering crowds, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will take to the streets of downtown and the lakefront Sunday, October 7. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2012, the iconic running event is one of the most prestigious marathons in the world and is one of the five World Marathon Majors. Watch great champions of the sport with the stunning skyline in full view.
It took only 6 days for race registration to max out to the 45,000 participant capacity, but the event's activities span a whole weekend. Highlights include a free, 2-day Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place, a carb-hearty feast aboard the Odyssey's specialty Pasta Lunch boat cruises, and a celebratory Post-Race Party outdoors in Grant Park's Butler Field.
The fall classic itself starts and finishes in Grant Park, with a course that runs 26.2 miles through 29 neighborhoods. Known for its flat terrain and for being one of the fastest in the world, the Chicago Marathon course is a scenic tour of the city. Beginning downtown at Columbus Drive and Monroe Street, the start line will be packed as racers take off bright and early between 7:20-8:00am. It's quite the scene and an adrenalin rush in itself as they travel en masse past beautiful Millennium Park, along State Street and the iconic Chicago Theatre and then set off through the city streets beyond.
Coverage of the 35th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon begins on air at 7am CT on Sunday, October 7, 2012 on NBC 5 Chicago. Watch the broadcast from anywhere in the world online at NBCCHICAGO.COM from 7am-1pm CT.
A SPECTATOR'S GUIDE
For hours, weeks and months, they have trained and sacrificed in preparation for this day. You'll be inspired by their stories and their perseverance as you cheer them on to the finish line. In the flurry of high fives, water hand-offs and costumed racers, follow these 6 tips for spectators and you'll be watching the marathon like a pro:
- Have a plan
If you have a runner in the race, use the course map to figure out where you will watch the race and communicate which side of the street you'll be on. If you're aiming to hit multiple spots along the route, map out which mile marker your runner will be at during particular times, based on their planned pace.
- Track your runner online
Sign up at chicagomarathon.com/rt to use your phone to keep tabs of your runner. Electronically track multiple runners along the race course by receiving real-time updates via text message, Facebook and Twitter. Updates will be received as runners cross the 10K, halfway (13.1 miles) and 30K checkpoints, as well as the finish line.
- Stand out in the crowd
To help your runner spot you among the sea of spectators, dress up and bring a neon sign, big balloon, flag or other unique identifier to hold up as they runs past. Be loud and be creative!
- Take public transportation
Use the CTA and hop on the ‘L' train to get to the start and finish line, as well as various mile markers near stations throughout the downtown and neighborhoods. For example, the Blue line stop at UIC-Halsted is near MILE 16 in Greektown and the Red line stop at Grand is near where the runners cross the Magnificent Mile at MILE 1.
- Enjoy live enterntainment
Don't skip a stop by the neighborhoods of Pilsen at MILE 19 and Chinatown at MILE 21, where upbeat mariachi music and colorful lion dancers entertain the crowd. Mix it up with live animals for the kiddies at Lincoln Park Zoo between MILE 5 and 6, or go for the block-party atmosphere of Boystown surrounding MILE 7.
- Make an appearance after MILE 20
After a few hours, the course takes its toll and runners need extra support for the last few miles which are concentrated on the South Side. Show up by taking the Orange line to Halsted (MILE 20.5), the Green line to 35th-Bronzeville-IIT (MILE 23) or the Red line to Sox-35th (MILE 23.25) to give them a final burst of energy before the big finish.
Article photo courtesy of City of Chicago, Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events