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Events Fri Oct 11 2013

A Runner & Onlooker's Guide to the Chicago Marathon

Chicago_Marathon_Logo.jpgIf you're attending Sunday's Chicago Marathon, it's important to remember two things: to stay safe and have fun.

Both parts are obvious notions. In terms of safety, April's Boston Marathon bombings are undoubtedly hanging over this weekend's events. But you can trust in the increased security presence and the knowledge that most people that attend the marathon are decent folk and moral members of society. It might seem otherwise, but there's a very small percent chance that something bad will happen again. Regardless, it wouldn't be unwise to keep your head on a swivel and to act appropriately if you see something suspicious.

As for the fun part, here are some tips to fully enjoy the marathon.

If you're watching the race...

• Avoid watching the start of the race. The main reason is because it's downtown at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. You're better off staking out a spot after the 10-mile mark so you can see all the different runners pass you by and not all at once.

Here's a list of areas broken down by when the first and last runners will pass through. As you can see, if you can get a spot at Mile 20, then you will see runners racing by for close to five hours.

• If corporate-sponsored cheer zones are your thing, the marathon has a few along the route.

• If you're cheering on someone, track your runner through text messages and if you want to wave hi during the race, make a plan with the runner beforehand. Establish a spot where you'll be along the route and wear bright-colored clothes to attract the runner's attention.

• Hungry? Well you're out of luck. Sorry.

• Just kidding. Let's just say there are a lot of food options, many with specials just for Sunday.

• Want to walk around and still enjoy the action? Check out the course map and take it from there. The North Side, West Loop and Chinatown are the best spots to see multiple mile markers.

If you're running in the race...

• Leave your backpack at home. Goes without saying.

• Obey common sense in prepping for the race. I'm sure that link's tips sound like stuff your mom would say (I'm surprised "Brush your teeth and floss" didn't make the cut), but hey, when you're completely focused on running 26.2 miles through the scenic streets of Chicago, you might forget the basics.

• Load up on protein, balance carbs, and stick with what you know.

• A lot of these video tips might be too little, too late (unless you really go hard on the yoga in the next two days), but there are some that still are relevant, like clips on race day security and recovery techniques.

• To save energy, stay off your feet on Saturday. Eh, Friday, too. Why not! And, don't forget anti-chafing tapes and lubricants. Trim your toenails, too.

• If you really want to, a light jog a day or two before won't hurt you.

If you're an elite runner...

• Pace yourself for the first 16 miles or so then run as fast as you can after the pace setters drop off. Aim for a run time of 2:05:00. Easy!

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