Chicago Marathon

Runners' Expo Kicks Off Bank of America Chicago Marathon Weekend

NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live stream with complete 2019 race coverage beginning at 7 a.m. on Oct. 13 right here.

Before thousands of runners hit the pavement for the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, they'll have to pick up their packets. 

They'll do so at the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday as the big day inches closer and closer. The expo takes place at McCormick Place, located at 2301 S. Martin Luther King Drive, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday then from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The event features more than 180 exhibitors offering Chicago Marathon merchandise, as well as running gear, nutrition, technology and more. It's an important stop for runners to grab their bib numbers, timing device, gear check tag, their official Nike shirt and more.

Are you running the race? If so, here's everything you need to know about the big day:

How fast do you have to run the Chicago Marathon? 

Runners must be able to complete the 26.2-mile distance in six hours and 30 minutes and must maintain a 15-minute per mile pace or faster. Participants must be 16 years or older. Participants are required to show a government-issued photo ID and runners ages 16-17 must have permission to participate from a parent or legal guardian.

What if you can't finish the race? 

If you are unable to complete the 26.2-mile course, runner transport vehicles, located at all 20 aid stations will be on hand to drive you back to the start and finish areas in Grant Park.

What is the route for the marathon?

A map of the course is available here

The winner of the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Mo Farah, sits down with NBC 5 to answer a series of random questions about himself and a little quiz on Chicago! 

What time does the Chicago Marathon start?

Your start time is based on your assigned start wave. Wave 1 begins at 7:20 a.m. (full schedule below).  

The start line is located in Grant Park at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Monroe Street. 

Start corral assignments are based qualifying and estimated finish times along with previous Chicago Marathon results. Wave 1 Start Corrals are assigned based on a verified qualifying time. Wave 2 and Wave 3 start corrals are assigned based on the estimated finish time you entered on your race application.

5:30 a.m. – Gear check opens

5:30 a.m. – Start corrals open

7:20 a.m. – Wave 1 (Red) start corrals close

7:20 a.m. – Marathon Wheelchair Start (men)

7:21 a.m. – Marathon Wheelchair Start (women)

7:22 a.m. – Handcycle Start

7:23 a.m. – Athletes with Disabilities Start

7:30 a.m. – Wave 1 Start

7:45 a.m. – Wave 2 (Blue) start corrals close

8:00 a.m. – Wave 2 Start

8:10 a.m. – Wave 3 (Orange) start corrals close

8:35 a.m. – Wave 3 Start

*Times are subject to change.

What time does the marathon end? 

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon finish line is located on Columbus Drive south of Balbo Drive in Grant Park.

Finish line offerings include Gatorade Endurance Formula (lemon-lime), Aquafina bottled water, bananas, Gatorade Whey Protein Recovery Bars and a variety of other Simple Truth food products from Mariano’s Fresh Market. For participants age 21 and over, Chicago’s own Goose Island Beer Co. will provide complimentary 312 Dry-Hopped Urban Wheat Ale.

Spectators are not allowed at the finish line. To view runners closest to the finish line, spectators should visit the Bank of America Cheer Zone at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

9:30 a.m. – Grant Park opens to spectators

9:30 a.m. – Biofreeze 27th Mile Post-Race Party starts

4:00 p.m. – Gear check closes

4:00 p.m. – Biofreeze 27th Mile Post-Race Party ends

Can you walk on the course? 

You can walk on the marathon course but roads begin to re-open to traffic after 6 hours and 30 minutes of the last official starter. Participants must maintain a 15-minute per mile pace (approximately) or faster. 

Hilarious Signs From Past Bank of America Chicago Marathons

What will the weather be like?

Partly sunny, windy and cold in the morning for the start of the Chicago Marathon with temps in the low 40s. Wind chill readings near 32 degrees. Partly sunny and cool in the afternoon with less wind. Highs in the low to mid 50s. Wind: SW/W 15 to 25 mph will ease. 

Check here for an updated forecast as race day nears.

Where can I check my gear on race day? 

Each runner will have a designated gear check area, which is determined by your start wave: Red, Blue or Orange.

What are you not allowed to bring on the Chicago Marathon course? 

Wheeled devices are not permitted for use on the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course by anyone other than registered and authorized wheelchair and handcycle participants. Prohibited wheeled devices include non-registered wheelchairs and handcycles, baby joggers, strollers, skateboards, rollerblades and bicycles.

The use of selfie-sticks, camera mounts, video devices, computers or any similar devices by anyone while participating in the event is prohibited.

Music devices with headphones are permitted for use on the course; however, participants must be alert to their surroundings at all times and must pay attention to important announcements made in Grant Park and along the course.

Prohibited items:

  • large bags (backpacks, suitcases and rolling bags)
  • hard-sided coolers
  • costumes covering the face
  • any non-forming bulky outfits extending beyond the perimeter of the body
  • props and non-running equipment
  • pets/animals (except for service animals)
  • alcoholic beverages
  • illegal substances
  • chairs
  • weapons
  • remote controlled aircrafts and drones

Where can you use the bathroom along the course and how many aid stations are there?  

There will be 20 aid stations located along the course. The aid stations are roughly one to two miles apart. 

Each aid station will feature a medical tent, toilet facilities, water and Gatorade Endurance Formula Lemon-lime. 

Gatorade Endurance Carb Energy Chews will be available in Orange and Fruit Punch flavors at Aid Station 10 (Mile 13.2).

Gatorade Endurance Energy Gels will be available in Apple Pear, Vanilla, Blackberry and Mango flavors at Aid Station 14 (Mile 18.2).

Aid Stations 15-18 (Miles 19.5-23.5) will offer bananas.

Biofreeze Pain Relief Spray will be available at the Biofreeze Pain Relief Zone located at Mile 21.2 (Cermak Road and Archer Avenue).

See optimal fueling plans for training and on race day from the experts at Gatorade. 

How can you check your time along the route? 

Timing checkpoints will be positioned at the start line, each 5K, at the halfway point and at the finish line. Digital clocks will be positioned throughout the race.

Digital clocks will be positioned at the finish line and will display the elapsed race time as well as the start time.

How can you see race results?

You can find your race finish and splits times by searching by your name or event bib number on the marathon's race results page.

Where can you meet family and friends after the race? 

Spectators are not allowed at the finish line. However, those who purchase Balbo Hospitality tickets will have access to seating in the finish line bleachers. 

Runner re-unite is located on Columbus Drive adjacent to the Biofreeze 27th Mile Post-Race Party. Alphabetical signs will be staged to help facilitate meeting locations between runners and spectators.

Where do you go after the race and what will be offered?

The Biofreeze 27th Mile Post-Race Party is located in Butler Field, near the start line at Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive. The outdoor celebration will feature live music, food and beverages available for purchase. Participants age 21 and over (photo ID required) can redeem the tear-off portion of their bib number for one Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale or a Born + Raised Cream Ale.

How can you watch the Chicago Marathon live?

Download the NBC Chicago app or the Bank of America Chicago Marathon app to watch the race live and see runners as they cross the starting and finish lines. 

What if you lose something at the race?

Lost items will be collected race weekend and will be held until Oct. 31, 2019. For more information and to claim your item, click here

What are some good ways to prep on race weekend? 

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon will also host the Advocate Health Care International 5K the day before the big race. The race is an option for marathoners to get exercise in preparation for the marathon and even for non-marathoners to join in on the running.

The Advocate Health Care International 5K in Chicago is great event for runners looking to warm up for the Chicago Marathon or for novice runners looking for a fun 5K. Soak up marathon weekend without having to go 26.2!

For more marathon tips and info click here

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