Chicago Marathon 2013: Street Closures and Security Measures

Chicago Marathon and Street Closures

The Chicago Marathon will send up to 45,000 runners through the streets of Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 13, with an expected 1.7 million spectators watching them. The 26.2-mile route starts at Columbus and Monroe in Grant Park and runs as far north as Wrigleyville, south just past U.S. Cellular Field, west to the United Center and east to the lake.

Aside from the runners themselves, there are usually three types of people in Chicago on race day: People there for the race who want to cheer on friends; people who have some place they need to go during the race; and people who just want to stay as far away as possible.

Whatever group you’re in, here are some basic tips to make getting around the city on race day a little easier.

Know the Route, Plan Ahead and Ditch Your Car

The first thing to know is that the marathon route will be closed to traffic periodically throughout the day, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A portion of Roosevelt Road, from Michigan Avenue to Columbus, will be closed all day, 6 a.m–4:30 p.m., as organizers have set up an area for spectators to watch runners cross the finish line.

Streets along the rest of the the route will be closed intermittently from 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Streets are scheduled to reopen after the runners pass through an area (at a 15-minute mile pace, according to race organizers). Anticipated openings are listed in the marathon’s brochure, but the times are estimates. Chicago Police will decide when the streets can be reopened and can also close down additional streets if necessary.

Major streets that will be closed include:

  • LaSalle from Lincoln Park to Jackson
  • Adams from Franklin to Damen
  • Michigan from Roosevelt to 35th

All expressways and Lake Shore Drive will be open, but the following expressways will experience ramp closures during the race:

  • Eisenhower (I-290): Westbound exit at Damen
  • Kennedy (I-90): Adams Street entrances and exits
  • Dan Ryan (I-90/94): Southbound ramp to 31st Street

If you live or park along the marathon route, you must move your vehicle before race day. Cars will be ticketed and towed starting at 1 a.m. on Oct. 13. According to race organizers, notifications will be posted in your neighborhood and will indicate whether you need to move your car prior to race day. If you think you’ve been towed, the number to call for information about towed vehicles is (312) 744-4444.

The bottom line: If you need to get around on marathon day, your best bet is to take public transportation. If you want to watch the race, the Chicago Transit Authority has several El stops that put you within walking distance of some great places to watch. Hopping off at the Grand Red Line stop, for example, gives you the ability to see runners on Mile 1, 3 and 12 of the race. Metra will also operate additional early morning inbound trains and early afternoon outbound trains to accommodate participants and spectators.

Access Points and Security

If you’re showing up to cheer on a friend (or have friends cheering you on), you should also be aware of the following security measures and access points:

  • Grant Park will only be accessible through four entry points on the day of the race. You will have to go through a security checkpoint, and all bags will be screened.
  • Spectators won’t have access to the Start/Finish lines in Grant Park.Only runners displaying their bibs and event staff will be allowed in this area. Race organizers have a dedicated cheering section on Roosevelt Road, between Michigan and Columbus, near the finish line.
  • Runners must pick up their own race packets Oct. 11-12 at the Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place. Runners cannot have someone else pick up the packet for them.
  • On race day, runners can only bring the clear plastic bag they are given in their event kit into the race perimeter.
  • In case of emergency, either weather or otherwise, organizers have an Event Alert System. This includes alerts made on public address systems, as well as color-coded flags at aid stations and on message boards.

If you plan to attend the marathon, prepare early and have fun while you are there. If you are trying to avoid the marathon and crowds, remember, it’s only one day a year. And according to a University of Illinois study, the 2012 race contributed $243.46 million to Chicago’s economy.

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