Runners race down LaSalle Street near Wacker Drive during the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Here’s how you can watch in person or from your couch, track a runner and tips on how to successfully maneuver around the city during the marathon on Sunday.
After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the Chicago Marathon last year, the city’s biggest test for long-distance runners returns on Sunday.
More than 35,000 people from 50 states and 100 countries are expected to compete in the 26.2-mile race.
In total, the course winds through 29 different neighborhoods, so even if you’re not running, chances are the race will affect most Chicagoans or their travel plans on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know for the marathon.
When is the race?
The race begins with the men’s wheelchair grouping at 7:20 a.m. Sunday in Grant Park. The starting line is at Columbus Drive and Monroe Street. Here are the scheduled start times:
7:20 a.m.: Men’s wheelchair
7:21: Women’s wheelchair
7:30: Wave 1 (red)
8: Wave 2 (blue)
8:35: Wave 3 Start (orange)
The race begins in Grant Park. In general, the course winds its way north to Sheridan Road in Uptown, then back south and west by the United Center through the West Loop, south again to 35th Street in Bronzeville and finally finishing back in Grant Park.
Can I watch from the starting line?
No. Only registered runners can watch at the actual starting or finish line. Spectators can access Grant Park beginning at 9:30 a.m.
How can I watch or listen from home?
NBC-5, Telemundo Chicago and TeleXitos will have live TV coverage and live streaming from 7 to 11 a.m.
For radio coverage, WSCR (670-AM) will broadcast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Are there any COVID-19 restrictions with the race?
All participants must be fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken in the previous 72 hours.
What’s the weather like on Sunday?
The forecast calls for partly sunny, breezy and warm with a 74-degree temperature on Sunday morning. There is a 30% chance of rain as of Tuesday morning, according to Accuweather.
How can I find a runner on the course?
The Chicago Marathon app will provide live race-day runner tracking, along with elite athlete profiles, live broadcast streaming, weather, and an interactive course map. Download it here from the Apple App Store, or here via Google Play.
Where and when does the race end?
The finish line of the 26.2-mile race is at the south end of Grant Park. The elite runners are expected to cross the finish line first about 9:30 a.m. All runners must finish the race in six hours, 30 minutes, which is about a 15-minute mile pace.
How can I find a runner after the race?
Alphabetical signs can be found in the “Runner Reunite” area on Columbus Drive adjacent to Butler Field. The post-race festival with live music, food and drinks will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What’s the best way for spectators to get around the course?
Public transit is the easiest way to get around and avoid road closures. Various CTA trains and buses can get you near Grant Park and help you navigate your way around the course. The CTA said Tuesday that it will be providing extra race-day service this weekend .
Metra also plans to increase the number of trains inbound in early morning and outbound during the early afternoon for Sunday. Extra service will be offered on the BNSF, Metra Electric, Milwaukee District North and Union Pacific Northwest and West lines.
What are the best spectator strategies to watch the race?
If you’re following a specific runner, the best way to keep up is to track him or her via the Chicago Marathon app. You can follow along as they make their way through the course.
There are numerous viewing locations where you can watch the race at two nearby points. For example, in the fourth mile you can see the field running north on LaSalle Street at Division Street. Then you could two blocks west and see the field running south on Wells Street around mile marker 12. And there’s a Red Line stop at Clark and Division, so you can head south and see other locations.
When do I have to move my parked car from the course?
Any cars parked on the course will be towed starting 1 a.m. Sunday.
When do streets along the course close?
Streets along the course will be closed starting at 7 a.m. Sunday.
When do streets along the course reopen?
As runners pass through the mile markers, the streets will gradually reopen in a staggered manner from 10 a.m. (mile markers 1 and 2) to 6 p.m. For a complete guide of reopenings, click here.
What are the best shortcuts — pedestrian and vehicular — to avoid the marathon?
The marathon makes getting around in the city extremely difficult. If you must take a car, the best way to avoid runners while heading north or south is by taking Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
To get east or west, Lower Wacker Drive is extremely useful at getting to Lake Michigan, the Magnificent Mile, Streeterville or Lake Shore Drive.
On foot, the Chicago Riverwalk is an easy way to get through the closed Loop streets.