Chicago Marathon

Real Cost of the Chicago Marathon: One Runner's Experience

The registration fee is just the beginning, so make sure your bank account can handle the total cost of running a marathon before you put your name in the lottery

Registration for Chicago's biggest running event is right around the corner, but before you put your name in the lottery, there are a few things to consider.

The opening date for registration for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has not been announced, but race organizers say the lottery will open in March, which means now is the time to decide whether to commit.

Before making that big decision, first consider the true cost of the race -- all aspects of the race -- and make sure you have enough money to get you through training and, of course, the race itself.

Let me explain. From the outside, distance running seems to be a cheap sport, requiring only running shoes.

Yeah, right.

We runners know better. We have stuff -- lots of stuff. And when it comes to training for and running a marathon, it definitely isn't cheap.

Here's a look at the costs associated with my 2014 Chicago Marathon training, which began in February and culminated with the Oct. 12 race:

Chicago Marathon Race Registration: $185

Shoes (Three Pairs): $300

Training Through Chicago Endurance Sports: Free! I ran with the American Cancer Society charity team, which provided a free training option.

iPod Shuffle (after mine bit the dust over the summer): $50

Headphones: $20

Garmin Forerunner 110: $120

Shot Bloks: $32

Clothing: $600* (Includes one pair of compression socks, one pair of compression sleeves, three pairs of shorts, one pair of tights, one pair of capri tights, four sports bras, four tank tops, two long sleeve tops, four pairs of socks)

Other Races for Training: $375** (Includes the Chi-Town 10K, Madison Half Marathon, PAWS 8K with Groupon, Bastille Day 5K, Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, Bix 7, Rock the Night 5K)

Body Glide: $9.99

Yoga Classes (20): $200

Gym Membership (9 Months): $179.91

Deep-Tissue Massages (6): $550

Swag at the Chicago Marathon Expo: $110

Parking at the Chicago Marathon Expo: $10

Chicago Marathon Race Day Parking/Transportation: $40

TOTAL COST: $2,771.90

* This is an estimated cost. I think that’s all of the running clothes I purchased between February and October, and I should note that almost everything was on sale.

** This does not include travel costs for the Madison Half Marathon or Bix 7 in Davenport, Iowa, because I consider those vacations.

Certainly, not all of these things are absolutely necessary in marathon training. For example, while training for my first marathon in 2010, I didn’t incorporate yoga or massages, nor did I do as many other races. And, of course, I already owned a ton of gear and clothing heading into training for my fifth Chicago Marathon.

Still, between February and race day, I spent almost $3,000 on this endeavor.

But guess what? It was worth every penny.

Maggie Jenkins is a comic, writer, runner and rapper. A five-time Chicago Marathoner, she is a co-founder of the blog Find out more at

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