Whether you’re ready to race or just joining the cheering committee, you can catch the Bank of America Chicago Marathon all across the city every October.

This elite athletic event is one of the most prestigious marathons in the world, and is one of the six World Marathon Majors. Watch amateur and elite athletes from around the world race through Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, which come out in full force to cheer on the runner.

  • 45,000 runners each year
  • 1.7 million estimated annual spectators
  • 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries represented
  • 26.2-mile course through 29 Chicago neighborhoods

A spectator’s guide to the Chicago Marathon

Thousands of athletes from all over the globe have spent months training for this moment. You’ll be inspired by their stories and their perseverance as you cheer them on to the finish line. Here are a few helpful resources and tips to help guide you through the big day.

When is the Chicago Marathon 2023?

The 2022 Bank of American Chicago Marathon will take place on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.

When does the Chicago Marathon start?

The marathon starts in waves, beginning at the official start line in Grant Park. Here’s this year’s schedule:

Marathon Wheelchair Start (men): 7:20 a.m.
Marathon Wheelchair Start (women): 7:21 a.m.
Marathon Handcycle Start: 7:23 a.m.
Wave 1 Start (red): 7:30 a.m.
Wave 2 Start (blue): 8 a.m.
Wave 3 Start (orange): 8:35 a.m.
Spectator access to Grant Park begins: 9:30 a.m.
Abbott 27.2 Fest: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where can you watch the Chicago Marathon?

While spectators aren’t allowed in race start and finish areas inside Grant Park, there are plenty of viewing areas along the race course where you can cheer on runners:

  • To view runners closest to the start of the race, go to Grand Avenue, between Columbus Drive and State Street, near Mile 1, or anywhere along State Street, between Grand Avenue and Jackson Boulevard.
  • To view runners closest to the finish of the race, go to the Bank of America Cheer Zone at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.
  • See the list of official cheer zones, including the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Cheer Zone in Lincoln Park at the 8K mark and the Charity Block Party at Mile 15.

The marathon route goes through 29 of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods, which makes it the perfect opportunity to explore different corners of the city. Cheer with the locals and the mariachi bands in Pilsen around Mile 19 or check out the colorful lion dancers in Chinatown near Mile 21. And don’t miss the block-party atmosphere (complete with drag queens) of Northalsted (also known as Boystown) surrounding Mile 7 and 9.

After a few hours, the course takes its toll and runners need extra support for the last few miles. Take the Orange Line to Halsted (Mile 20.5), the Green Line to 35th-Bronzeville-IIT (Mile 23) or the Red Line to Sox-35th (Mile 23.25) to give them a final burst of energy before the big finish.

There are designated areas to meet runners after the race within Grant Park. The Runner Reunite area can be accessed by going through a security checkpoint and bag screening at Entrance Gate #1 (Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue) or Entrance Gate #4 (Ida B. Wells Drive and Michigan Avenue).

See this year’s official course map or download the Chicago Marathon app for an interactive course map.

Chicago Marathon runners with medals
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
© 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon/Kevin Morris

How can you track runners in the Chicago marathon?

Download the Chicago Marathon app to keep tabs on your runner throughout the race. You can electronically track multiple runners on the course by entering participant info on the website. Updates will be received as runners cross the 10K, halfway (13.1 miles), and 30K checkpoints, as well as the finish line.

How can you get around during the Chicago Marathon?

Taking public transportation is crucial on race day, since road closures will affect traffic and parking near the route. You can easily use the CTA ‘L’ trains to get to the start and finish line, along with various points along the course route. For example, the Red Line stop at Grand is near the point where runners cross the Magnificent Mile at Mile 1, Sedgwick Brown Line Station is near Mile 11 in Old Town, and the Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line Station is near Mile 25.

See more at this handy list of ‘L’ stations near the race course. And check out our guide to getting around Chicago for more tips.

Visit the Bank of America Chicago Marathon‘s official website for more information: