Chicago Marathon Countdown – Logistics

September 23, 2015

Ummm…we are under the 20 day mark people….only 17 days until October 11th.  Thanks for all your words of encouragement last week!  Today I will be sharing some of the logistics that are finalized for marathon weekend.  Unlike the New York City Marathon, I did not have to worry about baggage or ferry options for Chicago. 

The Hotel

Confession: I booked my hotel before the lottery results!   I wanted to secure a room as soon as possible and the hotel had a flexible cancellation policy.  I was afraid I would totally jinx myself….so whew…I got in!  I’ll share where I stayed in my future recap.

The Flights

I’m lucky to have my own “travel agent”…aka….my mom! She is not an actual travel agent, but sometimes she acts like one.  Once it was confirmed I would be running Chicago she started scouting flights.  Her first find was actually a steal from Frontier Airlines, but I nixed that.  Even though I am short, I found there was little leg room for my short legs.  Normally I would go for the lowest/direct flight, but I figured I needed to give my legs a little room to relax.  The next find were direct flights to Midway via Southwest.  My mom and I will arrive early Friday morning and my sister and Cliff will join us later that evening after work.

Image: Southwest Airlines

The Transportation

Instead of renting a car, we will rely on public transportation and good ole Uber.  I’ve made a mental note to purchase some Ventra Cards when we arrive.  These cards can be pre-loaded with money or passes and can be used for the trains/buses.

  • Is it best to take a taxi, Uber or BMW (bus/metro/walk haha…get it) from Midway to downtown Chicago? I understand there is a cost vs. time tradeoff πŸ™‚

The Food

My mom and I will arrive Friday morning, drop off our bags at her hotel, and head to the expo.  Afterwards we plan on  checking out the Chicago Chinatown for some dim sum…mmmmm.  Hopping over to another cuisine, I’ve gotten several pizza recommendations – thanks everyone!! The top two recs have been Lou Malnati and Giordano’s.  As for sweets, Cliff and I also like a good doughnut.  After the NYCM we went to Doughnut Planet…sooo good! I did a little research and saw there is a Doughnut Vault close to our hotel – yay or nay?

  • Any recs for coffee shops?

Now onto an important question…pre-marathon dinner? After reading some online reviews, scouring Yelp/Opentable, and checking out menus I will be carbo loading at one of the Rosebud Restaurants

Image: Rosebud Restaurants  

Any must see/do that are easy on the feet? (boat tour is on the list) 

Do you have any recommendations where my Runtourage should spectate during the marathon?

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49 Comments
    1. I’ve never been to Chicago but I hope you have a great time! Good call on legroom on the flights especially for the way HOME! You’ll definitely want to stretch your legs out and be comfortable after the marathon. I wouldn’t have even thought about that and just would’ve gone with the cheapest.

      When we travel, we use Yelp to find places to eat and things to do. Both Clay and I are Yelp Elites so we write a lot of reviews and use others’ reviews too.
      Amy Lauren recently posted…Weekly Rundown: September 14-20My Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        I like using Yelp as well. I use to refer to Urbanspoon, but they were purchased by another company so I did not like their new interface. Sometimes I cross reference the Yelp reviews with TripAdvisor or Opentable haha πŸ™‚

    1. Brilliant plan to choose an airline that offers better legroom. Hopefully you choose an aisle seat too so you can get up and walk frequently. I’m so excited about your race and can’t wait to read all the details because I am hoping to run Chicago next fall. Sorry, I have no recommendations for you….I only was in Chicago once on a business trip with hubby.
      Pam and Christine recently posted…Boots on the Run 5k – raising funds to help military familiesMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        That is a good idea. I am usually a window seat person, but I like the idea of getting up and walking. I’ll be documenting everything into an itinerary, so I’ll share that with you once I am done with marathon weekend πŸ™‚

      1. Run Jenny Run

        That’s good to hear! I’ve only been to O’Hare for layovers. I’ll see Kathleen on Friday for the expo πŸ™‚

    1. I’d plan on either a cab or public transit from the airport to downtown. Depending on how much you have to carry, I lean closely toward cab. It should be $30 or so (maybe less). With the public transit, you would be taking the Orange Line in, and walk a decent bit from “baggage claim” (where the taxi line is) to the trains. Then depending on your hotel, you may need to transfer or walk from the Orange line stop. It all depends on how much you’re up to walking, but remember you still have the EXPO!

      They have various expo shuttles to McCormick Place. I’d do one of those if possible. McCormick Place is huge, and there’s two sides to it with a long covered bridge in between. It’s hard to know/direct which side you want to go to. I think the marathon is on the side with easy access from Michigan Ave, based on past years, but could have changed this year… FYI on public trans to McCormick Place, they installed a train station that is supposed to be “close” but is really almost a mile away — from the Michigan Ave side. And further from the other side! There is a bus to go from train station, but I can imagine it’s going to be swamped.

      Other restaurant group to look at is Lettuce Entertain You. You’ve seen some of their restaurants in the DC/Bethesda area, but it’s based in Chicago and they have some awesome options!
      Lauren @ Lauren Runs recently posted…A Tiring but Happy Week… When ITU World Championships Came to ChicagoMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Lauren – you are the best! Thank you for ALL the tips. I’ll recheck which line the hotel falls. If a bit far, I’ll opt for the taxi. I saw there is a shuttle from the Hilton (not my hotel, but close to my moms) so will do that. Ahh I had no idea Lettuce Entertain You owned Mon Ami Gabi! My family likes that restaurant. Congrats on the IM! I’m catching up on your recaps tonight πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve flown into Midway several times and have taken the Orange Line into downtown without any issues. It does take a little longer than a cab but it’s much more affordable. If you are deciding between Uber or a cab, I would definitely go with Uber. I’ve found them to be much more reliable and typically a few dollars cheaper than a cab fare would be, plus they just feel safer to me.

      Chicago is full of great coffee shops – Intelligentsia is one of my favorites, and there are several locations around the city.
      Hollyanne recently posted…houseiversary.My Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Hollyanne – thanks so much for the tips. Good to know if I go with the car route, Uber would be a better choice than the cab. I just looked up the Intelligentsia looks good!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Good idea – Hancock building is close to my hotel. So nice to see you today, hope you had a nice lazy evening πŸ™‚

    1. I grew up near Chicago and there is seriously so much great food! For coffee, I recommend The Wormhole and Star Lounge. I’ve never been to the Doughnut Vault, but my favorite donut shop is Do-Rite Donuts – all of their donuts are great and they serve Dark Matter coffee, which is also wonderful. Some other food recommendations are Portillo’s (I eat there every time I visit my family), Carnivale, Girl and the Goat, and Au Cheval.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Melinda – thank you so much for the recommendations! They all look great – this is definitely going on the list (and list for future visits). Thanks again!

    1. My flight is pretty short so I didn’t worry too much about it and went with cheapest. LOL. We aren’t renting a car either. We’re staying just a few blocks from the start so I don’t have to worry about getting to the race. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the expo Friday evening or wait until Saturday. I may take one of the shuttles offered from various points to the expo. I’ve never been to Chicago and look forward to doing a little (but not much) sightseeing Saturday and hopefully Sunday afternoon too.
      HoHo Runs recently posted…Making ComparisonsMy Profile

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        I’m looking forward to our 26.2 tour on foot! I think on Saturday we’ll do an architectural boat tour and the Hancock building is close to my hotel so probably that. I think a shuttle is a good idea to the expo, will prob do that as well.

    1. THIS IS SO EXCITING, Jenny!! You are going to have so much fun! I have no recommendations to offer, since I’ve never been to Chicago, but I’m going to live vicariously and I will definitely take notes in case I make it in, one of these days! This trip already sounds like fun and you’ve not left home; I can’t wait to hear all about it!
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        Thank you, Tara! Once I return I’ll also type up the itinerary and send it to you πŸ™‚ Did you see those Chicago Half Marathon medals? They rival the size of Little Rock!

    1. Chicago resident here, so I love giving recommendations/advice. πŸ™‚ I definitely suggest taking the train from the airport unless you’ve got a ton of luggage to carry. It’s so convenient and so much cheaper than a cab. Depending on where you’re staying, you might have to transfer from the Orange line, but that’s really no big deal.

      The architecture river tour is definitely a must and if you can’t get enough of the water, you can also take the water taxi to Chinatown. I really like the dim sum selection at the Triple Crown Restaurant.

      There are lots of good donut places, including Do-Rite Donuts, Glazed and Infused, and Firecakes. Also, Intelligentsia Coffee is great!

      Spectating for the marathon is fun and pretty easy in terms of hopping on the train to get to multiple locations/see your runner several times. Definitely encourage your friends/family to venture out of downtown/the Loop as each neighborhood has its own energy during the marathon. Lakeview/Boystown is really fun and easy to get to via the train.

      Hope you have a great trip! I’ll be running the marathon as well.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Erin – thank you for all your tips/recommendations. Nice to hear that the train from the airport is easy to use. I’ll need to confirm where my mom’s hotel is. I do enjoy water taxis – good to know about the one to Chinatown. Triple Crown Restaurant was on my list to review πŸ™‚ I have a huge sweet tooth, can’t wait to indulge in one donut before… and many after!

        I’ll keep your spectating tips in mind when we finalize the spectating plan. If you are ever visiting DC/MD and need recommendations, do not hesitate to email me! Thanks again!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Except for a worktrip to Milwaukee, I haven’t really traveled the mid-west. Thanks for the note, Michelle!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you, Deborah! I think my mom/sis will be surprised at the amount of walking they have while spectating πŸ™‚

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Aww, thanks Cecillia. If you ever need my help let me know (esp if you racecation to DC/MD/VA) πŸ™‚ Good thing I LOVE pizza.. so many choices!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks, Sherry! I thought I was going to jinx myself. Eeks! This time next week you will be a marathoner πŸ™‚

      1. Run Jenny Run

        I find it fun as well. Are you sticking with the same plans for NYC? Or changing it up for this year? Exactly (about the hotel)!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Will post some donut pics for sure! Hope you ate some cake at Blerch – you had some fun photos!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Yum! I just read your plan – looks great. I am the same way (esp with restaurants haha).

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