Things To Do In Chicago Concierge Preferred

Concierge Tips for Exploring Chicago

Bank of America Chicago Marathon: Where to Watch


By Mike Chamernik

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is quickly approaching. And like the high-performance runners in the race, it will go by in an instant.

Like always, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be run throughout the entire city of Chicago, winding its 26.2 mile course through 29 neighborhoods on October 7, 2012. The race begins at 7:20 a.m. (wheelchair start) and 7:30 a.m. (marathon start) from Grant Park.

But where should you watch from? With 1.7 million spectators expected to attend, you would need to pick a spot (or spots) well in advance. Fortunately, there are many good places to watch the race. Here’s a look at some our top picks:

McDonald's Runner Update Centers
Know someone in the race and want to track their progress? Then watching nearby one of the eight update centers could be important to you. Five stations will be located downtown, two will be near Lincoln Park, and one will be near the Pilsen neighborhood:

  • Downtown: 201 N. Clark Street (at Lake Street); 23 S. Clark Street (at Madison Street); 180 W. Adams Street (at Wells Street); 230 S. State Street (at Adams Street); 600 N. Clark Street (at Ohio Street)
  • Lincoln Park: 2635 N. Clark Street (at Wrightwood Avenue); 1563 N. Wells Street (at North Avenue)
  • Pilsen: 1664 S. Blue Island Avenue (at 18th Street)

Chicago Riverwalk
Located along Wacker Drive just south of the Chicago River, viewers will be able to see runners go past twice. The early portion of the race passes by on both on the State Street bridge to the east and the LaSalle Street bridge to the west. If that’s not enough, viewers can also take in the scenic downtown view of the skyline.

If you like Latino music, food and culture, view the 19th mile of the race from Pilsen, Chicago’s largest Latino community. The race will be run east on 18th Street, where many Mexican bakeries, shops and restaurants line the street. Local residents welcome the marathon with music and dancing.

Come to the Chinatown section of Chicago for the race’s 21st and 22nd mile. The neighborhood has 58 restaurants to choose from, and visitors can expect Chinese music and dragon-costumed dancers and a large crowd. Before the runners arrive, visitors can check out the Chinatown Gate, the Nine Dragon Wall, and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park.

Lincoln Park
Watch the race on Clark Street, a road with a bevy of restaurants, bars and shops on it. Also, runners will run parts of the 4th, 5th, and 6th mile through the Lincoln Park park itself. After the runner pass by, you could go and see the Lincoln Park Zoo or sit by peaceful North Pond.

River North
A chance to double up! Watch the athletes race north on LaSalle Drive, and wait for a little while for them to race back south on Wells Street. LaSalle and Wells are only a couple hundred feet away from each other. To pass the time, get a quick bite to eat at Portillo’s, Al’s Italian Beef, Ed Debevic’s or the Rock N’ Roll McDonalds.

Taylor Street
The 17th mile is run through Little Italy on Taylor Street. This Near West Side community is known as a restaurant district and is one of the city's most charming neighborhoods. There will be a large cheering section - complete with a DJ and other festive entertainment - at the corner of Taylor and Morgan Streets.

Finish Line
Will a male Kenyan runner win again? Six different Kenyan runners have won every race since 2003. Will spectators see a world record set? By getting a spot near the finish line in Grant Park, you will immediately know if history is made.