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2021 Chicago Marathon Spectator’s Guide: What to Know if You’re Cheering on a Runner – NBC Chicago

NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live stream with complete coverage of the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon beginning at 7 a.m. on Oct. 10 right here.

Cheering on a runner in this year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10? You’re certainly not alone.

Where should you line up to watch your favorite runner on the course? Where can you meet up afterwards? How should you travel? 

We’ve got you covered.  

Where can you watch runners along the course? 

Chicago Marathon race advisors warn that just as in past years, spectators will not have access to the start and finish areas of the race. These areas remain accessible only to participants with event-issued bib numbers, staff and ticketed guests. 

Hilarious Signs From Past Bank of America Chicago Marathons

To view your runner as close to the start of the race as possible, spectators can watch from Grand Avenue between Columbus Drive and State Street. Points along State Street between Grand Avenue and Jackson Boulevard will also provide visibility. These areas are located near Mile 1.

To view runners closest to the finish line, check out the Bank of America Cheer Zone at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road. 

Runners and spectators should plan to meet in Grant Park after the race. That’s where you’ll find the Abbott 27.2 Fest and Runner Reunite area, which opens at 9:30 a.m.

What are the best places to cheer runners on?

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Cheer Zone – 8K

“Cheer on runners as they shamROCK through the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Cheer Zone located in Lincoln Park at the 8K mark. The Shamrock Shuffle is the kickoff to the Chicago running season and is a continuation of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Visit shamrockshuffle.com for more information.”

Charity Block Party – Mile 15

“Thousands of Bank of America Chicago Marathon participants are running and fundraising on behalf of important local, national and global causes. To celebrate the impact these participants make, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will host a Charity Block Party near Mile 15. Spectators, family and friends are welcome to cheer on their charity runners at the Charity Block Party located at Adams Street and Loomis Street near Whitney Young High School.”

Bank of America Cheer Zone – Mile 26

“Welcome back to the city that’s always up and running! Join Bank of America in supporting the return of racing in Chicago. Be a part of the excitement by bringing your noisemakers and cheer signs to celebrate and help motivate runners in their journey to the finish. The Bank of America Cheer Zone is near the finish line at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.”

Where can I find the Chicago Marathon course map?

Starting in Grant Park, runners will travel the 26.2-mile route goes through 29 city neighborhoods while being cheered on by 1.7 million spectators on Oct. 10, according to organizers.

Here’s a look at this year’s route.

What are the best ways to get to the marathon?

Spectators can access a number of viewing areas along the course via CTA ‘L’ trains the morning of the race. Cheer zones are located at various stops along the Red, Orange, Brown, Blue, Green and Pink lines.

Grand Red Line Station – Miles 1, 3 and 12.5

Board a Red Line train and exit at Grand Avenue (mile 1). Walk three blocks west to LaSalle Street (mile 3) and four blocks west to Wells Street (mile 12.5).

Monroe Red Line Station – Mile 2

Board a Red Line train and exit at Monroe Street.

Chicago Red Line Station – Miles 3.5 and 12.25

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 12.25).

Clark/Division Red Line Station – Miles 4 and 12

Board a Red Line train and exit at LaSalle Street (mile 4). Walk one block west to Wells Street (mile 12). 

Sheridan Red Line Station – Mile 8 

Board a Red Line train and exit at Sheridan. Walk four blocks east to Broadway. 

Addison Red Line Station – Mile 8.5

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

Sedgwick Brown Line Station – Mile 11

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

Washington/Wells (Brown, Pink or Orange Line) – Mile 13.5 

Board any Brown, Pink or Orange Line train and exit at Washington/Wells. Walk one block west on Washington to Franklin.

UIC-Halsted Blue Line Station – Miles 14.25 and 17 

Board a Blue Line train and exit at UIC-Halsted. Use the Halsted Street exit or Morgan Street exit and walk two blocks north to Adams Street to view the runners at Mile 14.25 in Greektown. Or use the Halsted Street or Morgan Street exit and walk one block north to Jackson (mile 17).

18th Pink Line Station – Mile 19.25 

Board a Pink Line train and exit at 18th Street. Walk four blocks east to Loomis Street. 

Cermak-Chinatown Red Line Station – Mile 21.5 

Board a Red Line train and exit at Cermak-Chinatown. 

Sox-35th Red Line Station – Mile 23 and 23.25 

Board a Red Line train and exit at Sox-35th. Use the 33rd Street exit (mile 23) or walk two blocks east on 35th Street to State Street (mile 23.25). 

35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line Station – Mile 23 and 23.25

Board a Green Line train and exit at 35th-Bronzeville-IIT. Use the 33rd Street exit (mile 23) or 35th Street exit (mile 23.25). 

Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line Station – Mile 25 

Board a Green Line train and exit at Cermak-McCormick Place. Walk two blocks east to Michigan Avenue. 

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.

What time should I get there and when does it end? 

7:20 a.m.: Marathon Wheelchair Start (men)

7:21 a.m.: Marathon Wheelchair Start (women)

7:22 a.m.: Marathon Handcycle Start

7:30 a.m.: Wave 1 Start

8 a.m.: Wave 2 Start

8:35 a.m.: Wave 3 Start

9:30 a.m.: Spectator access to Grant Park begins

9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Runner Reunite

9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Abbott 27.2 Fest

How can you watch a runner cross the finish line live? 

A live stream with complete coverage of the Chicago Marathon begins at 7 a.m. on NBCChicago.com and on NBC 5. The coverage will continue until 11 a.m. on TV, and a live finish line camera will stream until 3 p.m. on the NBC Chicago app and website.

This year, NBC 5’s marathon broadcast and digital coverage also will stream on NBC Chicago’s free app on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, as well as Peacock and on LX.

Where can you meet up after the race?

Marathon organizers recommend spectators find their runners at the Abbott 27.2 Fest and Runner Reunite area of Grant Park.

The area is open to spectators beginning at 9:30 a.m. and can be accessed through the security and bag screening at Entrance Gate #1 at Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue or Entrance Gate #4 at Ida B. Wells Drive and Michigan Avenue.

Because spectators will not have access to the race start and finish areas in Grant Park, organizers suggest friends, family and fans support their runners elsewhere on the course and meet them after in designated areas.

To view runners closest to the finish line, arrive early and find a spot at the Bank of America Cheer Zone, which is located at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

Which streets will be closed during the Chicago Marathon?

With thousands of runners hitting Chicago’s streets for the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, street closures and reroutes will be in effect.

For a full list of Chicago street closures and reroutes, click here.

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