Although the big race may not be until Sunday, the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon weekend officially kicks off Thursday as the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo gets underway.
The Expo, located at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Drive, features more than 100 exhibitors — including apparel and footwear, food, technology, fitness and more — and a jam-packed schedule of events full of talks by health and fitness experts.
But the Expo isn’t just for runners picking up their race-day packets and bib numbers. It’s for families, friends and spectators, too.
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“When you’re running, it becomes a lifetime memory,” Abbott’s Chris Miller said. “For some, this is their first marathon. For your friends and family who have been supporting you along the way, they get to celebrate, too.”
The Expo, which is open to the public, will open its doors beginning Thursday at 11 a.m. Here’s what to know:
The Expo takes place across three days, starting on Thursday, Oct. 5 and ending on Saturday, Oct. 7. Expo times are listed below but subject to change.
Thursday, October 5
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, October 6
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 7
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Expo event schedule
Each day, Chicago Running Coach Chris Wehrman will open the Expo with race day tips and Pace Team Leaders will follow by sharing advice on keeping a steady pace.
Highlights for Thursday include a 4 p.m. panel with six Chicago Marathon champions to celebrate the race’s 45th anniversary. Iconic names include Khalid Khannouchi, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002 champion and Amanda McGrory, 2007, 2008 and 2010 women’s wheelchair champion. Founder of Running for Real and Sustainability Advocate Tina Muir will also speak about becoming a sustainable runner.
Friday, Abbott will host the 3 p.m. “I Am Unstoppable” panel which will feature Tom Eller, the world’s first deaf-born Abbott World Marathon major six-star medal finisher; Ryan Patena, an Abbott Commercial IT consultant and multi-time marathoner with type 1 diabetes; and Daniel Romanchuk, the 2018 and 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon men’s wheelchair champion.
Saturday starts an hour earlier at 12:00 p.m. and features seven main stage events. Non-binary Inclusion Advocate and Executive Director of the Queer Running Society Jake Federowski will speak on the importance of queer inclusion and Dr. Phillip Skiba will share last-minute tips on pacing.
Participants will find the following inside their race day packets:
- Bib number and safety pins
- MYLAPS BibTag timing device
- Gear check tag
- Nike participant running shirt
- Participant bag
Participants over 21 will receive a tag on their bib number for one redeemable Goose Island Beer after the race.
How to get to the Expo
Parking is available at McCormick Place Parking Lot C for those choosing to drive. Participants can pay a reduced rate of parking at $12 by having their parking ticket validated by staff located near the expo’s entrance.
Parking spots throughout the McCormick Place campus but not at Lot C do not have reduced rates and are charged at $25. Parking directions can be found here.
Organizers encourage participants flying in to purchase CTA tickets online here in advance to avoid long lines at the airport. CTA fare, Ventra information and directions to McCormick Place can be found in the Abbott Heath and Fitness Expo Chicago Transit Authority tips brochure.
Participants can also take the South Shore Line or take advantage of the Metra’s $7 Saturday or Sunday pass, and the $10 Weekend Pass which is only available on the Ventra app. The Metra Electric line also provides frequent service between McCormick Place and downtown.