Chicago Marathon spectators’ mile-by-mile watching guide with all you need to know for Sunday’s race


On pace to be the largest ever, this year’s Chicago Marathon on Sunday attracted more than 47,000 registered runners. And what’s a giant footrace without throngs of curbside spectators clapping, cheering and ringing cowbells?

If you’re planning to cheer on a racer, it can take some planning to spot someone on the course. Know roughly when your runner is slated to begin — at 7:20 a.m., wheelchair athletes kick things off, and the staggered start continues through 8:35 a.m. — and about what pace the runner is aiming for.

You also can use the app to track their progress in real time. Search for “Bank of America Chicago Marathon” in the App Store or Google Play store, and find a runner by race number or last name.

To help you decide where to watch the race from, we mapped the course and sussed out nearby options at every mile marker for coffee, breakfast and lunch.

Starting line

Where: Columbus and Monroe drives (Grant Park).

Pro tip: Don’t start your day here, spectators. On marathon morning, Grant Park will be accessible only to registered racers, with the first wave leaving at 7:20 a.m., then staggered starts continuing until 8:35 a.m. The park opens to the public at 9:30 a.m.

Mile 1

Where: Grand Avenue and Rush Street (Near North).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Grand station.

Coffee, food: The Bakery Box, 47 E. Ohio St.; Goddess and the Baker, 44 E. Grand Ave.; Stan’s, 535 N. Michigan Ave.; Starbucks, 505 Michigan Ave.

Pro tip: Excellent for taking in the sheer crush of humanity but not the best to watch if you’re looking for a specific runner. The pack is dense the first few miles, making it hard to spot individuals.

Mile 2

Where: State and Adams streets (The Loop).

Nearest L stop: Red and Blue lines, Jackson station.

Coffee, food: Dunkin’, 39 W. Jackson Blvd.; Starbucks, 131 S. State St. Suite 210.

Pro tip: From here, you could easily get to Grant Park once it reopens to the public. Be aware that spectators aren’t allowed near the finish line.

Mile 3

Where: 333 N. LaSalle Dr. (River North).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Grand station.

Coffee, food: Goddess and the Baker, Riverfront, 225 N. La Salle St.

Pro tip: Spectators can hang out along the Riverwalk and see the racers cross the LaSalle Drive bridge.

Mile 4

Where: LaSalle Drive and Elm Street (Near North).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Clark/Division station.

Coffee, food: Hashbrowns Cafe, 1155 N. Wells St.; La Colombe Coffee Roasters, 4 E. Elm St.

Pro tip: This mile marker isn’t far from mile 12 in case you want to grab a bite and then see your runner again there.

Mile 5

Where: Stockton Drive and Farm in the Zoo service entrance (Lincoln Park).

Coffee, food: Cocoa + Co. Coffee and Chocolate Cafe, 1651 N. Wells St.

Pro tip: This might be a good spot if you’re watching with kids. The Lincoln Park Zoo is nearby.

Mile 6

Where: Cannon Drive and North Pond restaurant service entrance (Lincoln Park).

Coffee, food: Colectivo Coffee, 2530 N. Clark St.

Pro tip: There’s space to spread out in Lincoln Park. Just off the course, Sunshine Playground will keep young spectators entertained. A stone’s throw away is North Pond restaurant, 2610 N. Cannon Dr., which opens at 10:30 a.m. Sundays (business casual attire is requested). This mile marker is about half a mile from mile 10 if you want to see your runner twice in Lincoln Park.

Spectators watching a past Chicago Marathon.

To watch the marathon, you’re going to need a game plan. If you want to see specific runners on the course, it’s helpful to download the race’s app, so you can track their progress in real time.

Mile 7

Where: 3300 Inner Lake Shore Dr. (Lake View East).

Coffee, food: The Coffee & Tea Exchange, 3311 N. Broadway; Eggsperience Cafe, 3233 N. Broadway; Esencia Urban Kitchen, 3351 N. Broadway; Wake ‘n Bacon, 420 W. Belmont Ave.

Pro tip: From here, you could hustle over to see runners again between miles 8 and 9. It’s hard to cross the street when it’s full of runners, so you’ll want to be on the west side of Inner Lake Shore Drive (away from the lakefront). From there, you can take Aldine Avenue or Roscoe Street to catch the course again or grab a bite.

Mile 8

Where: Broadway and Sheridan Road (Lake View).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Sheridan station.

Coffee, food: IHOP, 3760 N. Halsted St.; Pancake Cafe Wrigleyville, 3805 N. Broadway; Starbucks, 3845 N. Broadway; GoodTimes Brewery, 3827 N. Broadway (opens at 11:30 a.m.)

Pro tip: This is the course’s northernmost point and doesn’t offer great access to other mile markers, but it does have nearby breakfast options. There’s also Gill Park Playground, 825 W. Sheridan Rd., along the course.

Mile 9

Where: Broadway and Briar Place (Lake View East).

Coffee, food: Intelligentsia Coffee Broadway Coffeebar, 3123 N. Broadway; Bae Coffee Company, 2945 N. Broadway; The Bagel Restaurant and Deli, 3107 N. Broadway; Cafe Korzo, 2935 N. Broadway; Fancy Plants Cafe, 613 W. Briar Pl.; Mini Donut Factory, 3151 N. Broadway; Stella’s Diner, 3042 N. Broadway; Wilde Bar & Restaurant, 3130 N. Broadway.

Pro tip: This is a busy stretch for spectators, so get there early for breakfast or after your runner goes by.

Mile 10

Where: Clark Street and Fullerton Parkway (Lincoln Park).

Coffee, food: Ludlow Charlingtons Coffee Shop, 2425 N. Clark St.; Cafecito, 411 W. Fullerton Pkwy.; The Galway Arms, 2442 N. Clark St. (opens at 10 a.m.)

Pro tip: You can get here easily from Mile 6.

Mile 11

Where: Sedgwick Street and North Avenue (Old Town).

Nearest L stop: Brown Line, Sedgwick station.

Coffee and food: Philz Coffee, 1555 N. Wells St.; Sweet Vegan Bakes, 409 W. North Ave.

Pro tip: Most racers should reach this point by mid-morning. A runner who starts at 8:30 am and runs 10-minute miles should get here around 10:30 a.m.

A past Chicago Marathon runner.

This year’s Chicago Marathon is on track to be the largest ever, with more than 47,000 registered racers.

Mile 12

Where: Wells and Walton streets (Near North).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Clark/Division station.

Coffee and food: BULSHO restaurant, 211 W. Walton St.; Egg Harbor Cafe, 800 N. Wells St.; Griddle 24, 334 W. Chicago Ave.

Pro tip: Maybe you came over here from mile four and are lookingto eat while you wait. Right along the course on Walton is BULSHO restaurant, a nondescript storefront that serves Somalian food. Breakfast options range from $7 to $15.

Mile 13/13.1

Where: Wacker Drive and Lake Street / Wacker Drive and Randolph Street (The Loop).

Nearest L stop: Brown, Pink or Orange lines; Washington/Wells station.

Coffee and food: Starbucks, 150 N. Upper Wacker Dr.; Beatnik On The River, 180 N. Upper Wacker Dr.

Pro tip: The halfway mark is where you’ll find the Bank of America “Cheer Zone,” meant to give runners a little extra encouragement to keep going.

Mile 14

Where: Adams Street between Halsted and Green streets (Greektown).

Nearest L stop: Blue Line, UIC-Halsted station.

Coffee and food: Athena Greek Restaurant, 212 S. Halsted St.; Greek Islands, 200 S. Halsted St.

Pro tip: This is just a block from mile 17. For easiest access to mile 17 on Jackson Boulevard, stand on the south side of Adams Street.

Mile 15/16

Where: Adams Street and Ashland Avenue / Jackson Boulevard between Paulina Street and Ashland Avenue (Near West Side).

Pro tip: Here, near the United Center, the Charity Block Party at Adams and Loomis streets is put on by some of the charities that marathon participants raise money for, and family members and friends are invited to take part.

Mile 17

Where: Jackson Boulevard and Green Street (Greektown).

Nearest L stop: Blue Line, UIC-Halsted station.

Coffee and food: 9 Muses Bar & Grill, 315 S. Halsted St.; Artopolis Bakery, Cafe & Agora, 306 S. Halsted St.; Ground Up Coffee & Bites, 900 W. Van Buren St.

Pro tip: Easy to get to from mile 14.

Mile 18

Where: Taylor and Aberdeen streets (University Village / Little Italy).

Coffee and food: Busy Burger, 1120 W. Taylor St.; Demitasse Cafe, 1066 W. Taylor St.; Mochinut, 1139 W. Taylor St.; Thai Bowl, 1049 W. Taylor St.; Two Shades Cafe, 1152 W. Taylor St.

Pro tip: Taylor Street is packed with dining options.

Mile 19

Where: Loomis Street between 15th and 16th streets (University Village / Little Italy)

Nearest ‘L’ stop: Pink Line, 18th station.

Pro tip: Addams/Medill Park, 1403 E. 14th St., offers a spot to hang out while runners pass by and offers close proximity to 18th Street’s plentiful dining options — see the list at mile 20.

Mile 20

Where: Halsted and 19th streets (Pilsen).

Coffee and food: Cafe Jumping Bean, 1439 W. 18th St.; Honky Tonk BBQ, 1213 W. 18th St.; Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery, 1733 S. Halsted St.; Rubi’s Tacos,1316 W. 18th St.; Simone’s, 960 W. 18th St.

Pro tip: The course heads down 18th Street, where there are plenty of neighborhood dining favorites.

Mile 21

Where: Cermak Road just west of Grove Street (Chinatown).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Cermak-Chinatown station.

Coffee and food: Dolo Restaurant and Bar, 2222 S. Archer Ave.; Golden Bull Restaurant, 242 W. Cermak Rd.; MingHin Cuisine, 2168 S. Archer Ave.; Phoenix Restaurant, 2131 S. Archer Ave.; Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings, 2002 S. Wentworth Ave., #103.

Pro tip: It’ll be closer to lunchtime when runners reach this spot. This mile marker is a short walk to Ping Tom Park, 1700 S. Wentworth Ave., along the Chicago River.

Mile 22

Where: 26th Street just west of Federal Street (Ickes Prairie Homes).

Coffee and food: Chiu Quon Bakery & Dim Sum, 2253 S. Wentworth Ave.; Go 4 Food, 212 W. 23rd St.; Slurp Slurp Noodles, 2247 S. Wentworth Ave.; Triple Crown Restaurant, 2217 S. Wentworth Ave.

Pro tip: You could stand here to catch runners as they head out of Chinatown, then backtrack for lunch.

Mile 23

Where: Michigan Avenue and 32nd Street (Bronzeville).

Nearest L stop: Red Line, Sox-35th station; Green Line, 35th-Bronzeville-IIT station.

Coffee and food: Harold’s Chicken, 124 E. 35th St.; Yassa African Restaurant, 3511 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

Pro tip: Toward the end of the race, runners tend to need extra encouragement. If you camp out here, you also can cut across to see runners again at mile 24. To do so, you’ll want to be standing on the east side of Michigan Avenue.

Mile 24

Where: Indiana Avenue, just north of 31st Street (South Commons).

Pro tip: If you stand here, you’re unlikely to have another chance to see your racer.

Mile 25

Where: Michigan Avenue and 21st Street (South Loop).

Nearest L stop: Green Line, Cermak-McCormick Place station.

Coffee and food: Fatpour Tap Works, 2206 S. Indiana Ave.; Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta, 2106 S. Indiana Ave.; Steve’s Bite, 80 E. Cermak Rd.

Pro tip: This is one of the last stretches to see runners before they enter Grant Park for the finish line.

Mile 26

Where: Roosevelt Road and Indiana Avenue (South Loop).

Coffee and food: Aurelio’s Pizza South Loop, 1212 S. Michigan Ave.; Burger Bar Chicago, 1150 S. Michigan Ave.; Giordano’s, 1340 S. Michigan Ave.

Pro tip: This can be a congested spot since it’s the final chance to see runners before they turn onto Columbus Drive for the last stretch. Restaurants on Michigan Avenue could be convenient alternative meeting spots for your runner if you’d rather not navigate the post-race scrum in Grant Park.

Finish line

Where: Columbus Drive (Grant Park).

Nearest L stop: Red, Green and Orange lines, Roosevelt station.

Pro tip: You cannot greet runners at the finish line. Meet them at the Mile 27 post-race party area in Grant Park. Spectators must go through security at Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue or at Ida B. Wells Drive and Michigan Avenue.


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