Anyone who has been a part of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon knows it’s so much more than a few hours of running on a Sunday morning. This week all those months of training will pay off as runners from around the world flock to Chicago for race day. However, the fun starts well before the first runner takes off.
The first official marathon activities start Thursday with the Kickoff Press Conference. Media from around the world will hear from race director Carey Pinkowski and Bank of America Illinois President Tim Maloney before the first round of elite runners will talk with reporters. Elite runners, including Tatyana McFadden, Rita Jeptoo and Wesley Korir will continue to speak through Friday’s press conference. There will also be an announcement from the World Marathon Majors about a new sponsorship.
Friday will also be the start of the fun for the vast majority of runners as the Abbott Health and Fitness Expo opens at McCormick Place. Runners will have their first opportunity to not only get their bib and swag-bag but to check out the hundreds of vendors on hand (including Chicago Athlete). The expo opens at 9 a.m. and stays open all day, finally closing at 8 p.m. and reopening again for at 9 a.m. on Saturday until 6 p.m. Anyone can visit the expo and it is free of charge for all runners, fans or those just generally curious about what goes on at a marathon expo.
All of the big name sponsors will be in attendance, including large displays from Nike and Brooks. Races of all distances and sizes will be there handing out information for runners to begin filling in their schedule for the end of this calendar year and all of 2015. The expo has become a crucial part of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon experience and offers everything from apparel to accessories and souvenirs.
As anyone who has run this marathon before knows, and most newbies could imagine, the Loop is a bit congested early Sunday morning. When the final runners take off a little after 8 a.m. the elites will be well into their race. The first finishers are expected to cross the line a little after 9:30 before being led to the media room where they will speak.
Friends, family and fans are encouraged to get out along the course early, especially at the more popular viewing areas like Lakeview and Chinatown. Grant Park will open up to spectators at 9 a.m.. While there are a number of tricks for fans to help track their favorite runners, the marathon’s website also has a Runner Tracker feature where anyone can punch in their runner’s bib number or name and see approximately where they are and how they are doing. Chicago Athlete will also be updating both Facebook andTwitter with how the top runners are doing.
For more information on all of the weekend’s events, check out the marathon’s websiteor read the official program.