First things first: As soon as you’re able to, head to the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo to pick up your bib. Expos tend to get more and more crowded as race day gets closer, so checking this off the to-do list ASAP can save you time on your feet and stress from the crowds.
The Expo opens on Thursday, October 5 at 11 a.m., and is also open Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s at McCormick Place, Lakeside Center, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Dr., and—like most places on marathon weekend—public transportation is the most affordable and convenient way to get there. In addition to the L’s red and green lines, you can also take the METRA Electric commuter railroad direct from downtown Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) advises runners to purchase CTA fares in advance at ventrachicago.com; while single rides will cost you $2.50 each, you can buy a day pass for $7 or a weekend pass for $10.
Due to the influx of marathon runners and spectators, Chicago locals recommend avoiding driving and rideshares. “You’ll be able to take trains and buses without having to worry about street closures or traffic, and the Ventra app [for the CTA] has a tracking feature to help with planning,” says Jamie Waters, a two-time Chicago finisher, volunteer, and longtime Fleet Feet Racing Team member.
Plus, “the nice thing about public transit is that all buses and trains accept Apple Pay or other contactless credit cards,” says Austin Hendrix, a six-time Chicago finisher and longtime Fleet Feet Racing Team member.