Chicago Marathon Course Strategy

Chicago Marathon course

The Chicago Marathon is one greatest marathons you can possibly run and great for experience runners but also for first-timers. The Chicago Marathon course is stunning. With over 45,000 runners, hundreds of thousands of spectators who come to cheer on you, and a pretty flat course, the Chicago Marathon is also one of the fastest marathons in the world.

If you don’t know what to expect from the Chicago Marathon course, you may need information about the Chicago Marathon course map and get some Chicago Marathon course tips you should read this article.

I’m going to break down the Chicago Marathon course for you, help with a Chicago Marathon course strategy and general tips for running a flat course like you will find in Chicago.

Chicago Marathon Course Strategy

Like in every marathon it is absolutely crucial that you focus on your early pace and don’t start out too fast. It happened to me before that I got caught up in the crowds and started off way too fast. The spectators in Chicago are great and they are massive pretty much the first 13 miles of the race which is why it happens a lot to runners running the Chicago Marathon that their first half of the race was way faster than the second one. Make sure to save your energy and take it slow. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Also generally speaking the Chicago weather is very unpredictable so make sure to check the weather days ahead and be prepared. It can be warm, it can be cold. In Chicago you really never know. But now let’s break down the Chicago Marathon course in a few pieces and see what kind of Chicago Marathon course tips you can take with you from this article.

The start – Mile 4

The race starts in the scenic Grant Park which is one of the main sights in the windy city of Chicago. The first miles of the Chicago Marathon course will guide you through the loop on State Street and LaSalle Drive, the Urban Center but also Financial District of Chicago. Remember to pace yourself and run slower to warm up and get into your zone. Don’t get too excited because of the crowds.

Yes. You are a superhero running this marathon, but save this fun for later in the city. You will need the energy. By reaching the Chicago Zoo you should have found your rhythm and feel comfortable running the pace you’re at. Also watch the setting of the aid stations and find your way to approach them this is what you’ll see the next 18 aid stations on the Chicago Marathon course.

Miles Five to 10: From Lincoln Park to Lakeview

You will be running north to Addison, where you will see the Wrigley Field. This is the most northern part of the Chicago Marathon course. Again, the spectators are insane the first 13 miles. There will come quieter parts of the race for sure. Soak it all in and save it in your inner marathon runner battery for later in the race. A conservative pace is still needed here.

You will still be in a holding things back kind of situation even though it is so tempting to just run faster than you should. Making your way south on Sedgwick and Clack Street is a great part of the Chicago Marathon course to totally focus again and enjoy the straight shot with beautiful houses around you. It’s a pretty neighborhood and a place that might help you to get your excitement under control if things are going a little crazy right now. Breathe in and focus on your goal – you’re almost half way through.

Miles 11 to 17: Old Town, River North, West Loop, Greek Town, and Little Italy

Welcome to the second half of the course. Now it’s time to get things going. The second half of the Chicago Marathon course doesn’t have as many turns as the first one which is great.
You will pass Old Town, Greek Town, and the West Loop where the crowd support is amazing and you’re going to see some of the most stunning landmarks of the city of Chicago.

By reaching the half way mark you’re going to cross the river to go back. The Chicago Marathon course will take you what until mile 15 before going east, south and west again. Make sure you know a few words Italian because in Little Italy you might see some Italian spectators. Take in the energy here again. After running 15 + miles you will need it for sure.

Mile 18 to 20: How are you feeling?

Around mile 18 to 20 you should ask yourself how this race is going for you and how much is left in you. You will have a lot of Hispanic spectators around you because Pilsen is the city’s largest Hispanic neighborhood. If you have paced yourself correctly and you’re having a good day, this is the time when you should speed up.

Mile 20 that marks for some runners the point of the race where they hit the wall and crash is your time to shine. Only 6 miles left – find your faster grove and take this marathon home. Keep your mind engaged. Don’t forget: You’re almost there.

Chicago Marathon Course: Miles 21 to the Finish Line

The last miles of a marathon is when you should start racing when there is energy left. If you’re mentally exhausted break the last miles down in smaller portions. Try to dedicate those final miles to special people in your life. People that have supported you on this journey to the Chicago Marathon.

People who can’t run, or family members who are ill. I do that a lot and it helps me when things get rough and they will be by the end of a marathon.

Around mile 23 you will turn on Michigan Avenue and you know what’s great about the Chicago Marathon course in the end? It’s literally a straight shot to the finish. You will see that the closer you’re getting to the finish line, the crowds are getting louder and louder.

Also the Willis Tower will be getting closer and closer. Almost at the finish line you’ll make a right turn, another left and there she is: The Finish Line. Don’t forget to smile and enjoy the moment. This is all yours. You have worked so hard to come this far and you have conquered the course of the Chicago Marathon. To get an overview of the Chicago Marathon course map, please follow this link. Are you running the TCS NYC Marathon as well? Here’s the course strategy for the NYC Marathon

Good luck at the Chicago Marathon this year. Run strong, be smart about your Chicago Marathon race strategy and go get your PR. Chicago is made for fast finish times and personal best’s. 

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