Marathons have long since been a draw for travelers. The host city not only attracts the actual marathon runners, but also friends and families showing their support as well as marathon enthusiasts who want a front-row seat of the action.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon returns on Sunday, October 8, 2023, for the 45th running of one of the nation’s most iconic road races, and it promises to be historic in athleticism, inspiration, and milestones.
This year, participants from around the world, all walks of life, and all levels of skill are running for themselves, their family members, and their communities. The inspiring stories of those taking on 26.2-miles in Chicago make each year’s race special, and this year will be no different. One of the deepest and most decorated professional athlete lineups in the event’s history will lead the way on race day.
Following in the footsteps of the front runners, more than 47,000 participants will make up one of the race’s largest finisher fields, which will include the event’s millionth finisher – both milestones and a testament to the race’s significance and global popularity.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon welcomes thousands of participants from more than 100 countries and all 50 states. The race’s iconic course takes participants through 29 vibrant neighborhoods on an architectural and cultural tour of Chicago. The 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a member of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, will start and finish in Grant Park on Sunday, October 8, 2023. In advance of the race, a three-day Abbott Health & Fitness Expo will be held at McCormick Place Convention Center on Thursday, October 5, Friday, October 6, and Saturday, October 7.
From athletes breaking barriers and records to those running for a cause, below is what you should know about this year’s event.
Chicago Marathon New in 2023
1. Age is Just a Number
The 2023 Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Championships will be held as a part of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 8, with 2,700 top age-group runners from across the world vying for podium positions in their respective age categories. One of these participants is 60-year-old Jenny Hitchings from Sacramento, CA. Jenny has run 33 marathons and hopes to break the American record, if not the World Record, as she enters a new age category this year. She already holds five American Records and a World Best for her age group (60-64).
2. The Chicago Distance Series
The inaugural Bank of America Chicago Distance Series culminates at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Participants who completed the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K in March, the Bank of America Chicago 13.1 in June and the Chicago Marathon will receive a unique medal and a guaranteed entry into the 2024 Chicago Marathon. Paula Gutierrez and Veronica Laureano, members of the Windrunners, a Chicago-based all-female racing team, have completed both the 8K and half marathon, and upon their finish in Grant Park on October 8, will be among the first Chicago Distance Series finishers.
3. Embracing Diversity
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon introduced the opportunity for individuals in the mass participation race to register as non-binary in 2022 and celebrated 41 finishers in the new division. This year, the non-binary division has seen meaningful growth with more than 130 runners registered to participate. Participants in this year’s division include Cal Calamia, the 2022 division second place finisher, sports activist, and founder of Non-Binary+ Run Club; Jake Fedorowski, a non-binary inclusion advocate and Executive Director of Queer Running Society; and Justin Solle, the Race Director for the NYRR FRNY Pride Run who has the goal to be the first non-binary person to run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.
4. A Million Dreams
Since 1977, over 960,000 participants have crossed the Chicago Marathon finish line. This year’s field of more than 47,000 participants will make history as the millionth finisher will cross the line in Grant Park.
Notable Chicago Marathon Runners in 2023
1. Breaking Boundaries
Chris Nikic is an American amateur triathlete. In 2020, at age 21, he became the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon. As a part of the Runner 321 Movement, Chris will wear bib #321 to represent trisomy 21, the medical term for Down syndrome. In 2023, the Bank of America Chicago Distance Series made a commitment to reserve bib #321 for a neurodivergent athlete moving forward.
2. From Tennis to Marathons
Monica Puig, former professional tennis player and ESPN commentator, is the first-ever Puerto Rican to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Monica is an Abbott World Marathon Major Six Star hopeful, and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will mark her fourth star.
3. Actress and Miss Deaf America
Lauren Ridloff is an actress and Executive Producer. Lauren’s meteoric rise as an actor began five years ago, but prior to that, she won the title of Miss Deaf America and was a kindergarten teacher in Manhattan for almost a decade. Last year, she participated in the TCS New York City Marathon, which was her first marathon. She is excited to return to her hometown to run her second marathon.
4. A Mother’s Marathon Journey
Nicole Bubolz, from Largo, FL is proof it’s never too late to build on a new passion, as the mother of nine children (three single and three sets of twins) makes her Bank of America Chicago Marathon debut. After picking up running 15 years ago to lose weight, Chicago will be her third marathon where all nine of her children will be waiting to celebrate with her following her finish.
5. A Family Affair
Mary Ellen Clifford, of Chicago, was inspired by Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski’s speech at the high school where she coached cross country, Mary Ellen has now run seven marathons and will be running with her three daughters at this year’s race.
6. Running for Parkinson’s
Joe Drake, of Seattle, plans to run all six Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2023. Joe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2018 and learned that vigorous exercise slows the progression. He ran his first marathon at 58 and has since done 16 marathons, raising more than $500,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
7. A Weight-Loss Transformation
Juan Hernandez, of Chicago, is making his Bank of America Chicago Marathon debut this year with an incredible weight loss story: he started at 400 pounds and is now down to 180 pounds. He runs with Chicago-area run clubs Viento Little Village Run Club and 7onSundays.
8. Running for Others
Peter Kline, from Bellevue, WA, has not only run more than 100 marathons but has also completed more than 60 of those with “rider athletes,” giving people with disabilities the chance to experience the thrill of crossing a marathon finish line. This year, at the age of 71, Peter a senior vice president at Merrill This year, is once again running with rider athlete Peter Ruiz, a Chicagoan with spina bifida.
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