You Owe it to Yourself to go to the Marathon

You didn't go to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon? You've NEVER gone to the Chicago Marathon? Why not? No matter what the Bears, Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and all the rest are offering, you will never get a better deal than the marathon. It is the best sporting event that Chicago runs.

First off - you cannot beat the price: it's free. As Eamonn pointed out, we all need to figure out a way to stretch our sports dollar, so going to the marathon helps in that endeavor. Secondly, the athletes who will run past while you are enjoying coffee and a bagel are some of the best in the world. Robert Cheruyiot, the men's winner in 2006, also holds the course record for the Boston Marathon. Beijng Olympic champion Constantina Dita-Tomescu won Chicago in 2004. These are elite athletes just a few feet from you.

After the top runners, you will see thousands and thousands of runners competing not for money, but for the goal of finishing the race. They have trained for months and months just for the right to say "I ran the marathon." They are moms and dads and students and the guy next to you on the 'L' and the woman who lives across the street from you. They come from every background imaginable, and from all over the world. Some are running to raise money, some are running to raise awareness, but they hold one common thread -- they are all running together to achieve to reach that finish line. And you were going to sleep in?

Hopefully, you're on board now to go and cheer on the runners. Here are some tips if you do go:

- Use public transportation. The marathon shuts down many major arteries of the city and parking is a mess, so use the CTA and RTA to get around.

- There are certain parts of the course that get very large crowds, especially on the North Side. Don't go to those places because it can be harder to catch the action when peeking over someone's head. Instead, try one of these spots: Ashland between Taylor and 18th, in front of U.S. Cellular Field, or Michigan Ave. between 33rd and Roosevelt. All of these spots are easily accessible by the CTA and need some fans to spur on the runners for those last miles. Plus, after the race you can chow down at the fantastic Italian restaurants in Little Italy, Mexican in Pilsen or Chinese in Chinatown.

- If you have a friend or family member running, sign up to get email and text alerts on their whereabouts. This will help you avoid the "Did she pass and I didn't see her?" panic. Also, make your friends and family members a sign so it's easy for them to spot you.

- Bring snacks. Over the course of the morning, thousands of runners will run by at paces ranging from elite to walking. To be able to cheer them on, you will need your own fuel.

You now have no excuse not to go. Go, cheer on the runners, and you will be glad that you did.

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