Chicago Marathon Spectators' Guide

Chicago Marathon Spectators’ Guide

The 2015 Chicago Marathon is on Sunday, October 11. About 45,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries will run throughout the city of Chicago. The competitors will start and finish in Grant Park. The 26.2-mile course takes runners through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. In 2014, an estimated 1.7 million people lined the streets to watch the runners. Estimates say it could be 2 million in 2015. Want to be one of them? The best thing you can do is arrive early. Here’s our Chicago Marathon spectators’ guide.

Top 5 Locations to See the Runners

First, you should know that general spectators will not have access to the start/finish area. There are a number of locations along the route where you can see the runners up close. Here are the top five. Pro tip: know someone running? Sign up for runner tracking text alerts.

1. To see 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. This is your chance to get great photos of the runners near the Chicago theater sign on State Street. Book parking near this location.

2. Visit the Mile 12 Cheer Zone located near the halfway point between Franklin and Adams Streets (one block from CTA Quincy/Wells stop; two blocks from Union Station). Book parking near this location.

3. The U.S. Trust Cheer Zone is at the intersection of Adams Street and Wacker Drive. You can support runners at one of the most scenic points of the course, just before they cross the Chicago River and approach the half marathon checkpoint. Great photo opportunity! Book parking near this location.

4. To see runners closest to the finish of the race, go to Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road. This is the homestretch when your cheers can help the runners finish strong. Book parking near this location.

5. After the race, plan to meet your runner at the runner reunite area in Butler Field, located north of Jackson Drive, between Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive. Book parking near this location.

Top 3 Locations to “Spot Hop”

Thanks to the Chicago Marathon course design, you can see the runners at two different points of the race. Here are the top three spots.

1. LaSalle and Division: Mile 4 and Mile 11. See the runners in their first pass through Old Town on LaSalle at Mile 4 and again when they head south on Wells at Mile 11. Book parking near this location.

Chicago Marathon Spectators Guide

2. The Merchandise Mart: Mile 3 and Mile 12. Root for the runners as they hit the 3-mile marker at LaSalle and Kinzie. Then at Hubbard and Orleans, you can cheer them on at Mile 12. Book parking near this location.

Chicago Marathon Spectators' Guide

3. Jackson and Racine: Mile 14 and Mile 16. The runners head through the West Loop in the second half of the race. You can see them at Mile 14 near Adams and Racine and at Mile 16 near Jackson and Racine. Book parking near this location.

Chicago Marathon Spectators' Guide

Chicago Marathon Parking

Driving to watch the Chicago Marathon? Use SpotHero to reserve parking in advance. Check out the Chicago Marathon parking page to compare locations and prices. You can also download the SpotHero app for iPhone or Android. Note: street closures begin at 7 a.m. Arrive early to avoid street closures. Read your parking pass for any street closures. We’ll also include tips on the best garage entrance/exit.

Use Waze to help you get the the best route to your spot. Download their app for iPhone or Android.

Chicago Marathon Parking Restrictions & Street Closures

No Parking Zones along the course will be enforced beginning at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 11. Look for No Parking signs in your area for full details. Street closures along the route will occur between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The roads in Grant Park will be closed longer.

Click here for a PDF of details street closures and openings.

Watch Runners Near CTA Stops

Taking the train into the city? Here are the CTA closest to different viewing areas.

Grand Red Line Station – Miles 1, 3 and 12
Board a Red Line train and exit at Grand Avenue.

Monroe Red Line Station – Mile 2
Board a Red Line train and exit at Monroe Street.

Chicago Red Line Station – Miles 3.5 and 11.5
Board a Red Line train and exit at Chicago Avenue. Walk three blocks west to LaSalle Street (mile 3.5) and four blocks west to Wells Street (mile 11.5).

Addison Red Line Station – Mile 7.75
Board a Red Line train and exit at Addison Street. Walk four blocks east to Broadway.

Sedgwick Brown Line Station – Mile 10.25
Board a Brown Line train and exit at Sedgwick Street. Walk a half-block north to North Avenue.

UIC-Halsted Blue Line Station – Miles 16, 16.5
Board a Blue Line train and exit at UIC-Halsted. Use the Halsted Street exit or Morgan Street exit. Walk two blocks north on Morgan Street to Adams Street to view the runners at Mile 16 in Greektown or use the Halsted Street exit to Mile 16.5. (Peoria Street exit will be closed).

18th Pink Line Station – Mile 19
Board a Pink Line train and exit at 18th Street. Walk one block east to Ashland Avenue.

Halsted Orange Line Station – Mile 20.5
Board an Orange Line train and exit at Halsted.

35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line Station – Mile 23
Board a Green Line train and exit at 35th-Bronzeville-IIT. Use the 33rd Street or 35th Street exit.

Sox-35th Red Line Station – Mile 23.25
Board a Red Line train and exit at 35th Street. Walk two blocks east on 35th Street to State Street.

Roosevelt Red, Green and Orange Line Station – Finish Line
Board a Red, Green or Orange Line train and exit at Roosevelt Road. Walk east on Roosevelt Road toward the Museum Campus/Grant Park

Chicago Marathon Course Map

Click here to see a PDF of the Chicago Marathon Map. An embedded version of the course map is below.

Chicago Marathon Facts

When: Sunday, October 11
Where: Grant Park
Marathon Wheelchair Start 7:20 a.m.
Marathon Handcycle Start 7:21 a.m.
Athletes with Disabilities Start (AWD) 7:22 a.m.
Wave 1 Start 7:30 a.m.
Wave 2 Start 8:00 a.m.
Spectator Access to Grant Park 9:00 a.m.
Course record (male): Dennis Kimetto, Kenya, 2:03:45 in 2013
Course record (female): Paula Radcliffe, United Kingdom, 2:17:18