Top 10 Reasons Why I Would Run the Chicago Marathon Again
1. The course is flat. There are a few inclines, including one just before the finish line. Other than that, it is a pancake. I never even saw an elevation chart.
2. It was really fun. Music, dancers, bands, cheering crowds, signs, and all sorts of random things will greet you on your 26.2 mile tour of the city of Chicago.
3. You will never run alone.
4. Over 1.7 million spectators line the streets to cheer you on. The crowds were best in the entire first half, around miles 20-21 in Chinatown, and the last 2 miles.
5. All of the aid stations were well-stocked and well-organized. At least, they were all fine when I went by. There were signs for the aid stations before you even saw them, so you knew they were coming up.
6. The expo is giant. I got to meet Hal Higdon. How can you argue with that?
7. Chicago has nice architecture. You will see a lot of it on the marathon.
8. Chicago becomes a runner's playground in the days around the marathon. Wear your T-shirt or medal afterwards and random people will congratulate you or ask you about the marathon.
9. It is one of the World Marathon Majors.
10. If I lived closer, I would run Chicago every year. It had the best combination of an interesting course, lots of spectators, and good course support out of the races I have participated in.
Top 5 Reasons Why I Would Not Run the Chicago Marathon Again
1. The weather is usually not conducive to good marathon performances. It seems like it is either too hot or too cold, more times that not too hot. No happy medium. I think I could have BQed had it not been for the weather.
2. Most of the second half of the course is not as interesting as the first half. There are fewer spectators and less shade.
3. If you have to travel, it is expensive. I refuse to think about how much money I spent on 3 nights in a hotel, airfare, marathon registration, food, sightseeing, and marathon gear.
4. It is a very large race. Large races are not everyone's cup of tea. The expo, the start, the course itself, the aid stations, and the finish are all crowded. Not swamped but definitely crowded. You need to be careful about tripping over or running into other runners. Over 35,000 runners finished the Chicago Marathon this year.
5. You need a good spectator plan. It is very difficult for a spectator to see their runner or vice versa.
All in all, Chicago is a fun, large, well-organized, and well-supported race. The biggest caveat is the weather. I'd have to think about it, but I'd probably run it again.