The Chicago Marathon is a marathon held every October in Chicago, Illinois. Alongside the Boston, New York, London, Berlin, and Tokyo Marathons, it is one of the six World Marathon Majors. Thus, it is also an IAAF Gold Label race. The Chicago Marathon is the fourth-largest race by number of finishers worldwide.
The first race was held on September 25, 1977 under the original name the Mayor Daley Marathon, which drew a field of 4,200 runners. The race has been held every year since, except in 1987 when only a half-marathon was run. It is among the fastest growing marathon road races in the world, due in part to its largely fast and flat course which facilitates the pursuit of personal records and world record performances. The race has achieved its elite status among marathons by developing relationships with sponsors who provide prize money to lure elite runners who have produced American and world record performances. Since 2008, the race has been owned and organized by Bank of America, and is officially known as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
The marathon course is a loop course, starting and ending at Grant Park. From here, the current course winds through 29 of the city's neighborhoods. The course loop can be generally divided into three sections: North, West, and South. In each of these sections, three of the city's main stadiums are near the course's turning points: Wrigley Field to the north; the United Center to the west; and Guaranteed Rate Field to the south. The city's fourth professional stadium, Soldier Field, is located near the start/finish area.
For the first three miles, runners wind through Chicago's downtown area. Eventually, they head north along LaSalle Street.
Runners are supported by over 12,000 volunteers spread throughout the course including at 20 aid stations located approximate every 1Ö3 miles. For runners in distress, aid station volunteers include medical staff and ambulatory services are scattered throughout the course.
Digital timers are positioned every 5 kilometers, as well as the halfway point.