The Chicago Marathon Expo is a fantastic event that’s open to both registered participants and spectators, providing an opportunity to fully embrace the race experience.
It goes beyond being a place to pick up your race pack; it’s a vibrant destination filled with exciting activities and a chance to immerse yourself in the world of running.
Whether you’re a runner preparing for the marathon or simply want to soak up the energy and enthusiasm of the event, the Expo offers something special for everyone.
This three-day Chicago Marathon Expo features over 100 exhibitors showcasing the latest in running gear, including apparel, shoes, accessories, nutrition, technology, and more.
In this article, we’ll provide you with all the essential details about the Chicago Marathon Expo, including directions on how to get there, parking information, and helpful tips for making the most of your time at the event.
Let’s get started…
Where Is The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo (Packet Pick-Up) Located?
The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo, which serves as the pickup location for the race packets for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, is held at the McCormick Place Convention Center.
Why You Should Attend The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo
The only place to get your marathon race packet is at the Chicago Marathon Expo.
Your Chicago Marathon packet will include the following items:
- Bib Number
- Safety pins
- Gear check tag
- Official race shirt, if offered by the race
- A bag
Attending the Chicago Marathon Expo also offers you a fantastic opportunity to:
- Gain valuable insights.
- Discover new products and technologies.
- Connect with a supportive community of fellow runners.
However, it’s crucial to keep in mind a golden rule: “Nothing new on race day.”
While the Chicago Marathon Expo is a tempting place to try new products and nutrition, it’s not the right time to experiment, especially if it’s the day of your race.
Even though you might see some awesome gear and snacks at the Expo, don’t be tempted to use them for the first time on your big race day. Save them for your regular training days.
That way, you can practice with it and see if it works well for you before risking any surprises on race day.
Also, there might be gadgets like massage guns and fancy recovery stuff at the Expo. If you’re not used to them, it’s a good idea to skip trying them there.
These things can really affect your muscles, especially if you go too hard with them.
To make sure you’re in top shape for your race, it’s better to skip trying unfamiliar products at the Expo.
Stick with what you know and use regularly on race day.
What Do You Need To Pick Up Your Chicago Marathon Race Packet?
To make sure you get your race packet smoothly, here are a few things you need to know:
- Have your ID and the email confirmation for pickup ready. You’ll need these to get your packet. Most races will use a QR code to scan for your details, so be sure to perhaps screenshot this off your email in case you don’t have wifi at the expo.
- Remember, you have to go in person to the Expo event to pick up your packet. You won’t be able to get it on race day, and they won’t send it to you in the mail.
- One important thing: Nobody else can pick up your packet for you. You’ve got to do it yourself. So, make sure you plan to be there in person.
How To Get To The Chicago Marathon Expo
Parking is available for expo attendees at McCormick Place Parking Lot C, located on Fort Dearborn Drive.
You can park here for a reduced rate of $12, but to receive this rate, your parking ticket must be validated by expo staff near the entrance.
Please note that parking is available throughout the McCormick Place campus for $25, but Parking Lot C is the only lot with a reduced rate.
Driving Directions To McCormick Place Parking Lot C
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the South Shore Line provide convenient access to the event.
Additionally, the Metra Electric Line makes stops at McCormick Place.
These transportation options make it easier for runners and spectators to access the event venue, reducing the need for private vehicles and parking concerns.
It’s a convenient and eco-friendly way to travel on the race weekend. This is what I used when I ran Chicago in 2022. It was super convenient, and Google Maps made it very easy to know where to go.
From the metro, it is a short walk to the expo, and it is easy enough to know where to walk as there will be many other runners doing the same, just adding to the excitement!
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
The CTA offers an affordable and convenient way to reach the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo. To plan your journey using CTA buses and trains, visit transitchicago.com.
It’s recommended to purchase CTA fares in advance at ventrachicago.com to avoid long lines on race day. Fare options include:
- Cash Fare: Acceptable on CTA buses only; exact fare is required. The full fare is $2.50, and the reduced fare (for children ages 7 to 11 and customers with a valid RTA Reduced Fare Permit) is $1.25.
- Ventra Ticket: Single-ride ($3) and 1-day ($10) Ventra tickets are available at CTA station vending machines. These disposable tickets include one full fare and two transfers.
- Ventra Card: Purchase a Ventra Card for $5 at CTA stations, participating Ventra retail locations, by phone, or online at ventrachicago.com. Once registered, the $5 charge becomes transit value for rides. Full fares vary depending on bus, rail, or O’Hare travel. Reduced fares and transfers are also available.
- Ventra App: Manage your Ventra account, add transit value or passes, and buy and use Metra mobile tickets with the Ventra app.
- Bankcard or NFC-Enabled Mobile Phone: Use contactless bankcards or NFC-enabled phones with Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay to tap and travel on CTA and Pace.
CTA Transit Directions To McCormick Place
From Downtown Chicago (South of Chicago Avenue)
Several bus and rail options are available, including taking the #3 King Drive or #4 Cottage Grove buses or transferring from CTA rail lines to a southbound Green Line train towards Ashland/63rd or Cottage Grove.
Exit at the Cermak-McCormick Place station and walk east to McCormick Place.
From Ogilvie Transportation Center
Walk north to the CTA’s Clinton station at Lake Street, take a Green Line train towards Cottage Grove or Ashland/63rd, and exit at Cermak-McCormick Place. Then, walk east to the expo.
From Union Station
Take the #1 Bronzeville/Union Station (Weekdays Only), #7 Harrison, or #126 Jackson bus to Michigan Avenue. Transfer to a southbound #3 King Drive bus to King Drive/23rd, located across from McCormick Place.
South Shore Line
The South Shore Line operates from South Bend, Indiana, with multiple stops along the way.
You can board the South Shore Line at various stations, and it provides a comfortable and efficient way to reach the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo and Grant Park on race day.
To streamline your journey, you can park your car at one of the convenient South Shore Line stations.
From there, you can enjoy a comfortable train ride to your destination, whether it’s the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo or Grant Park on race day.
For specific details about South Shore Line stations, schedules, tickets, and any ongoing bus services for stations between Carroll Ave. and Gary, please visit mysouthshoreline.com.
Using the South Shore Line is a practical and hassle-free way to get to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon events. It allows you to focus on enjoying the marathon experience without worrying about parking or traffic.
The Metra Electric Line
The Metra Electric Line provides a convenient transportation option for those attending the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
This train service offers frequent rides between McCormick Place, where the Expo is held, and downtown Chicago.
To make travel even more accessible, the Metra Electric Line offers some cost-effective passes:
- $10 Weekend Pass: This pass, available exclusively on the Ventra app, allows for unlimited rides on both Saturday and Sunday. It’s an excellent choice for attendees who plan to participate in marathon-related activities over the entire weekend.
- $7 Saturday or Sunday Day Pass: For those who will attend the Expo or the marathon on a single weekend day, this pass provides unlimited rides on either Saturday or Sunday. It’s a flexible option that can save both time and money.
These passes eliminate the need to purchase individual tickets for each ride, making it convenient and cost-effective for attendees, their friends, and family members to access the event venue and enjoy the marathon experience.
To make the most of your time at the Chicago Marathon Expo, here are some simple tips to keep in mind…
Tips for Navigating the Chicago Marathon Expo
- Plan Ahead
- Arrive Early
- Comfy Shoes
- Pack a Bag
- Stay Hydrated
- Ask Questions
- Attend Seminars
- Enjoy Discounts
- Have Fun
- Be Cautious with Freebies
- Be careful to not be there for too long!
Before attending the Expo, take some time to review the schedule of events and the list of vendors that will be present.
This will help you prioritize what you want to see and do.
Knowing the layout of the Expo and having a rough plan in mind can save you time and ensure you don’t miss out on anything you’re interested in.
While the Expo is open for a couple of days (Thursday to Saturday), it can get quite crowded, especially on the weekend.
Arriving early in the day, especially on the first day of the Expo, can give you more time to explore without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
You’ll also have a better chance of getting freebies and speaking with exhibitors before the crowds arrive.
Wear Comfy Shoes
With over 100 vendors and exhibitors to explore, you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking.
To avoid foot pain or blisters, wear comfortable, supportive shoes. It’s a good idea to avoid flip-flops or sandals, as they may not provide the support your feet need for extended walking.
Pack a Bag
At the Expo, you’ll receive lots of free samples, promotional materials, and perhaps even purchased items.
Bringing a backpack or tote bag to carry these goodies will make your experience more convenient. Plus, you won’t have to juggle multiple items in your hands.
Spending several hours at the Expo means you’ll need to stay hydrated. Bring a refillable water bottle to avoid the cost of buying bottled water.
Staying hydrated is essential for your comfort and energy levels during your visit.
Don’t hesitate to engage with vendors and exhibitors. They’re there to help and share information about their products or services.
If you have questions about a particular running accessory or nutrition product, this is a great opportunity to get answers directly from experts.
The Chicago Marathon Expo often hosts seminars and talks on various topics related to running, training, nutrition, and race strategy.
These sessions are a valuable source of information and insight from experts in the field. Attending a seminar or two can enhance your knowledge and race preparation.
Many vendors at the Expo offer special discounts and promotions on their products. Take advantage of these deals to save money on essential running gear or accessories.
This can be particularly beneficial if you’ve been eyeing specific items for your marathon.
The Chicago Marathon Expo is not just about shopping and information; it’s a celebration of running and fitness. Soak up the positive atmosphere, engage with fellow runners, and enjoy the overall experience.
It’s a unique opportunity to be part of a community of like-minded individuals.
Be Cautious with Freebies
While there will be plenty of free samples available, be mindful of what you try.
Trying new foods or supplements right before the marathon can be risky. It’s best to avoid anything that might upset your stomach and affect your performance on race day.
Remember that you’ll be running a marathon soon. Spending too much time on your feet at the Expo can lead to fatigue.
Aim to limit your visit to 1-2 hours to conserve your energy for the main event. Give yourself time to rest and prepare mentally for the race.
By following these tips, you can make the most of your Chicago Marathon Expo experience while staying comfortable and prepared for the race ahead.
Enjoy your time at this historic event!
Be Careful To Not Be At The Chicago Marathon Expo For Too Long
While the expo is a fun place to be, we want to rest our legs and feet before the big race day. It’s very easy to get caught up in it all, and before you know it, you’ve been on your feet for the same amount of time you’re going to be running for.
So keep an eye on the time to enjoy the expo, but be sure to get out of there and get your feet up for the rest of the day!