Marathons are built for so many reasons! They keep you fit, give you an exciting taste of competition, and create a strong sense of community.
One of the most famous marathons in the world is the Chicago Marathon. It’s part of the six World Marathon Majors, attracting over 40,000 runners every year.
Can you imagine the thrill and energy they all share?
I guess I am a little biased here because I have done Chicago and it is an amazing event to be part of!
Now, the big question is: How can you be one of those runners? How do you secure your spot in the Chicago Marathon?
To secure a spot in the Chicago Marathon, you have several options to choose from. One of the guaranteed methods is meeting the qualifying times.
For male participants, qualifying times range from around 3 hours and 5 minutes to 5 hours and 25 minutes, depending on their age group. Female participants, on the other hand, need to achieve qualifying times ranging from 3 hours and 35 minutes to 6 hours and 10 minutes.
By setting these time standards, the race organizers ensure the Chicago Marathon maintains its competitive edge and draws elite runners from across the globe.
This blog post will cover everything you need to know to secure a spot in the Chicago Marathon.
So, let’s dive right in and get started…
Who Is Allowed To Participate In The Chicago Marathon?
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon welcomes participants who meet the following requirements:
- Participants must be 16 years of age or older on race day.
- Participants between the ages of 16-17 must obtain permission from their parent or legal guardian during the application process.
- Completion of the 26.2-mile distance within six hours and 30 minutes (6:30:59) is required, as the marathon course will reopen based on this time limit.
- Selling or transferring race entries/bib numbers is strictly prohibited.
- All registration fees and ancillary purchases are nonrefundable.
- Participants must be familiar with and adhere to the event rules.
- Participants are responsible for picking up their own participant packet (bib number and timing device) at the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo during scheduled hours of operation.
If you meet all of the requirements and have no intention of selling or transferring your entry, you are well on your way to participating in the Chicago Marathon.
How Do I Enter The Chicago Marathon?
To enter the Chicago Marathon, you have two options: guaranteed entry or non-guaranteed entry.
This option ensures that you will have a place on race day, and there are several ways to secure a guaranteed entry:
- Charity Program ( I used this process and it was extremely gratifying to be able to give to an organisation that was close to my ethos all while doing what I love)
- International Tour Group
- Canceled Previous Entry
- Time Qualifier
- Legacy Finisher
- Bank Of America Shamrock Shuffle Legacy
- American Development Program
If you are passionate about running and eager to support a cause, participating in the official event charity program can grant you a guaranteed spot in the Chicago Marathon.
However, it’s essential to act quickly, as charity program entries are limited and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Each charity participating in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon manages its own distinct charity team, offering specific participant benefits and setting individual fundraising requirements.
Although fundraising requirements may differ among charities, if you claim your entry during the application window, you will typically be required to raise a minimum of $1,250 (USD).
However, if you claim your entry after the application window, the fundraising minimum may increase to $1,750 (USD).
Make sure to check the Chicago Marathon website for your application window.
Here are some of the charity partners that have access to guaranteed entries:
For a full list, please visit the official Chicago Marathon website.
Different charities also provide different perks on the day, some only provide your race entry while others may also provide pre-race and on-route support.
International Tour Group
If you have a desire to combine travel and running, participating in an international tour group can secure your spot in the Chicago Marathon.
Each tour partner operates its own distinct tour, providing you with various packages that may include entry fees, air travel, hotel accommodations, and more.
These packages can differ significantly between tour operators.
Here are some of the charity partners that have access to guaranteed entries:
- 209 Events Ltd
- Active Holiday Company
- Albis Reisen Marathon & Ferien
- Ali Schneider Marathonreisen
Canceled Previous Entry
Based on the information gathered over the last few years, the Chicago Marathon does allow you to cancel your entry through the standard event policy.
However, if you wish to secure a spot in the upcoming marathon, you must submit a new application.
Please note that upon submitting the new application, you will be required to pay the entry fee again.
Once your entry is confirmed, you will receive an email containing instructions on how to access and confirm your spot in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Make sure to read and understand their terms and conditions before canceling your entry.
If you meet the qualifying standards for the marathon outlined below, you can secure a guaranteed spot in the Chicago Marathon as a time qualifier.
|16 – 29||3:05:00||3:35:00||3:35:00|
|40 – 49||3:20:00||3:50:00||3:50:00|
|60 – 69||4:00:00||5:00:00||5:00:00|
|70 – 79||4:30:00||5:55:00||5:55:00|
|80 and Over||5:25:00||6:10:00||6:10:00|
To guarantee a spot in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as a time qualifier, you must meet the following criteria:
- Submission of Results Records: You must submit the results records for a marathon completed within the qualifying window. Keep an eye on the website for the dates.
- Qualifying Time Standards: The submitted finish time must be within the qualifying time standards specific to your division (men, women, or non-binary).
- Marathon Results Only: Finish times from race distances other than a marathon, such as half marathons or 50K races, will not be considered.
- Certified Course: A verifiable time must be achieved on a certified course approved by USA Track & Field (USATF), World Athletics, or a similar governing association. Non-certified races, weather, or course conditions will not be considered.
- Inclusive Standards for Non-Binary Applicants: The qualifying times introduced for non-binary applicants encompass the standards for the two previously existing divisions. Efforts are ongoing to create more inclusive event experiences, and future qualifying times may be adjusted based on data and discussions with non-binary athletes.
Suppose you have completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon five or more times within the last 10 years. In that case, you can secure a guaranteed spot in the Chicago Marathon as a legacy finisher.
To qualify under the legacy application path, please take note of the following:
- Inclusion Period: Chicago Marathon finishes prior to 2012 will not be considered for the legacy program.
- 2020 Finishers: If you were a registered participant in the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, you will be considered a 2020 finisher for the legacy application path.
- Years with Non-Finishes: If you signed up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in the years from 2012 to 2019, 2021, and 2022 but did not finish the race, those years will not be considered for the legacy application.
- Non-Chicago Marathon Finishes: Finishes at marathons other than the Chicago Marathon will not be considered for the legacy application path.
If you have completed the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K four or more times since 2008 and have also signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle, you can secure a guaranteed spot in the Chicago Marathon.
To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must have finished the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K four or more times since 2008.
- If you were a registered participant in the 2020 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, you will be considered a 2020 finisher for this legacy application path.
- If you participated in the 2021 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle virtual 8K, you will be considered a 2021 finisher for this legacy application path.
- You must be signed up for the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K to qualify for a guaranteed entry into the Chicago Marathon.
The 2023 event marks the last year for the guaranteed entry path through the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K.
However, starting with the 2024 event, a new guaranteed entry path called the Chicago Distance Series will be established. Find out more about the Chicago Distance Series.
American Development Program
If you meet the qualifying standards outlined below, you can secure a guaranteed spot in the Chicago Marathon through the American Development Program.
|Men||sub 1:11:00||sub 2:35:00|
|Women||sub 1:22:00||sub 3:00:00|
|Non-binary||sub 1:22:00||sub 3:00:00|
|Master-Men||sub 1:15:00||sub 2:43:00|
|Masters- Women||sub 1:26:00||sub 3:08:00|
|Masters-Non-binary||sub 1:26:00||sub 3:08:00|
American Development Program High-Performance Application
If you meet the high-performance standards outlined below, you’re eligible for a complimentary entry:
|Men||sub 1:07:00||sub 2:23:00|
|Women||sub 1:16:00||sub 2:43:00|
|Non-binary||sub 1:16:00||sub 2:43:00|
|Master-Men||sub 1:11:00||sub 2:32:00|
|Masters- Women||sub 1:21:00||sub 2:52:00|
|Masters-Non-binary||sub 1:21:00||sub 2:52:00|
Here’s What You Need To Know About The American Development Programs
- Only finish times that fall within the specified qualifying standards will be considered for the American Development Programs.
- Finish times achieved before January 1, 2021, will not be eligible for consideration in the American Development Program, and finish times achieved before October 1, 2021, will not be suitable for consideration in the American Development High-Performance Program.
- Finish times achieved at race distances other than a half marathon or marathon will not be considered.
- A verifiable time is one achieved on a certified course approved by USA Track & Field (USATF), World Athletics, or a similar governing association. Finish times from non-certified races, or those influenced by weather or course conditions will not be taken into account.
- To be considered for either program, you must provide proof of your finish time meeting the qualifying standards as part of your application.
- For the American Development Program, the documentation should pertain to a half marathon or marathon completed on or after January 1, 2021.
- For the American Development High-Performance Program, the documentation should pertain to a half marathon or marathon completed on or after October 1, 2021.
- The provided documentation must include a finish time that falls within the qualifying time standards and specifies your division (men, women, or non-binary).
- It’s essential to note that although the programs primarily target American athletes, non-U.S. citizens who meet the qualifying standards will also be accepted into the American Development Program.
- Masters athletes, defined as those aged 40 and over on October 8, 2023, are eligible to participate in the American Development Programs.
What Happens Once My Application Has Been Submitted
All applicants, regardless of the program they are applying for, are required to submit a credit card number as part of their application process.
Once applications are submitted, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon reviews and verifies each one.
The approval process may take up to 10 business days.
You will receive an email notification regarding your entry status. If the application is approved, the entry fee will be processed automatically.
Application For A Non-Guaranteed Entry (Drawing)
The Chicago Marathon also offers another to enter the race.
If you are not eligible for a guaranteed entry into the Chicago Marathon, you can still apply for an entry through the non-guaranteed entry drawing application.
During the application window, you can submit your application for consideration.
It’s important to note that submitting multiple applications will not increase the chances of receiving an entry, as the event will remove all duplicate applications before the drawing.
After the conclusion of the application window, names will be randomly selected from the pool of non-guaranteed entry applications.
Before mid-December, applicants will be notified of their entry status via email.
If your name is drawn and you receive an entry through the non-guaranteed entry drawing application, the entry fee will be automatically processed.
How Much Does It Cost To Enter The Chicago Marathon
The entry fee reflects the cost and resources needed to host a world-class marathon.
Your contribution through registration is essential, as every dollar collected is reinvested into the event, covering these expenses and enhancing the overall participant experience.
- For U.S. residents (those living in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or other U.S. territories), the entry fee is $240 (USD).
- Non-U.S. residents are required to pay $250 (USD).
As part of the application process, you will need to provide your credit card information. Once your application is approved or selected through the drawing, the entry fee will be automatically processed.
When filling out the application, please use a credit card with an expiration date of December of the current year or later.
Please keep in mind that a processing fee is applied to all entry fees.