Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon 2021: Here Are All the COVID Protocols for This Year's Race

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The 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will look a bit different this year as coronavirus precautions are taken.

The marathon said it is "working closely with the City of Chicago, including the Chicago Department of Public Health, to provide a safe and enjoyable race weekend experience for all event attendees."

So what will that mean for runners and spectators?

Here's a breakdown of what to expect:

What are the COVID protocols?

Participants in the race and anyone attending the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo will be required to show proof of a complete COVID-19 vaccination series or a negative test. The marathon has also outlined a "health policy" here.

Among the requirements are:

  • If you have tested positive or been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of the event, you should not participate in or attend the event. 
  • If you feel sick or experience symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., a fever of 100.4F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain/achiness, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) you should self-isolate and not participate in event activities or enter event venues while symptomatic. "We encourage individuals experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 to get tested and consult a medical professional for additional guidance," race organizers said.  
  • All attendees must adhere to local and state COVID-19 guidelines and mandates. This includes face coverings and quarantine advisories. In any case where the event’s protocols are more specific than state and local guidance, the official event health protocols should be adhered to. 
  • Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken no earlier than October 7, 2021 is required for entrance to the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo. Individuals unable to prove full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be barred from entering the Health & Fitness Expo and unable to pick up the necessary race materials that allow for participation in the event. 
    • Accepted COVID-19 tests are those offered by healthcare facilities or available over the counter in pharmacies that have received Federal Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) and include RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, lateral flow, and rapid antigen tests.   
    • Children who are not eligible for vaccination will need a negative COVID-19 test result to attend the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo.
  • Individuals who elect to provide proof of vaccination should be prepared to display proof of vaccination in the form of an immunization record issued by a government entity or accredited healthcare facility. Acceptable forms of proof include the original document, a photocopy, or digital image on a smartphone, tablet or other device. The immunization record must include the name of the individual matching their government issued photo identification, the date of vaccination(s), and a serial number or batch number of the dose given. 
  • Upon verification of proof individuals will receive a tamper proof wristband which will act as identification at the screening process and allow entrance into event venues for the remainder of the weekend. The wristband must be worn continuously throughout race weekend and should not be removed.  

When and where are face masks required?

All attendees are required to wear face coverings while at indoor event venues, including the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo. Face coverings must be two-ply at a minimum and cover the mouth and nose securely. Single-ply neck gaiters and face shields are not acceptable face coverings. Face coverings may temporarily be removed to eat or drink or to verify identity to security personnel.  

Participants are encouraged to wear face coverings in Grant Park pre-race. Additional masks will be available post-finish for participants who would like to re-mask before making their way to the Abbott 27.2 Fest or Runner Reunite. 

Attendees who have access to a tented area are required to wear face coverings while inside the tent. 

Spectators are encouraged and may be required to wear face coverings in Grant Park and while supporting their participant on course. 

What if I test positive before the race?

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has announced two new exceptions that will allow some runners to defer their entries to 2022, if needed in the lead-up to this year's race.

Organizers said participants who test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of the event - meaning on or after Sept. 27 - will be able to fill out an online form asking to defer their place and entry fee to 2022.

Such requests will only be allowed from midnight Sept. 27 through 11:59 p.m. Oct. 10.

Runners who register as non-U.S. residents will also be eligible to defer their spot in the race and their entry fee. Such participants would need to fill out an online form by 5 p.m. on Oct. 6.

Those who are not eligible for either exception but must cancel their registration can do so through 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 and while their entry fee will not be refunded, they will have access to guaranteed entry for the next event, organizers said.

What about travel restrictions?

The event has put into place an exception to our standard event policies to acknowledge government travel restrictions preventing a participant from traveling to Chicago race weekend. Registered participants who meet the criteria for the exception on or after Sept. 10, 2021, will be eligible to defer their 2021 place and entry fee to the 2022 event. Click here for more information.

Are spectators allowed?


Marathon organizers recommend that spectators support runners from the course and meet runners after the race in designated areas within Grant Park.

Spectators will not have access to the race start and finish areas within Grant Park on race day.

The Abbott 27.2 Fest and Runner Reunite area of Grant Park will open to spectators at 9:30 a.m. To access this area, spectators must pass through security and bag screening at Entrance Gate #1 (Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue) or Entrance Gate #4 (Ida B. Wells Drive and Michigan Avenue).

Spectators are encouraged to wear face coverings in Grant Park and along the 26.2-mile course route.

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