How to Get Into the Chicago Marathon

These are the qualifying times, charity program, and lottery entries

Chicago Marathon Finisher
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The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the world's most popular marathons and is known for its flat, fast course. The Chicago Marathon is held on a Sunday in early October. You can get into the Chicago Marathon through a guaranteed entry or by entering their lottery.

If you want entry, you will need to be sure to apply during the application window. Applications for the race open in late October of the previous year and close at the end of November.

For example, applications for the 2018 Chicago Marathon opened on October 24, 2017, for guaranteed entry and on October 31, 2017, for non-guaranteed entry. The closure of the application period is November 30, 2017.

Guaranteed Entry for the Chicago Marathon

There are several ways to get a guaranteed entry for the Chicago Marathon.

  • Charity Program: The Bank of America Chicago Marathon hosts thousands of runners who choose to make their Chicago Marathon experience more meaningful by running on behalf of a charity. Charity runners receive a marathon race entry in exchange for fundraising for a specific charity. These runners begin the training season with goals for personal bests in their marathon time as well as in fundraising dollars. Over 10,000 charity runners each year participate in the Chicago Marathon on behalf of more than 170 local, national and global causes. The mandatory fundraising minimum is $1,000 before the deadline date and $1,500 after the drawing deadline date. However, some charities set their requirement higher than this minimum. Get more information on the Chicago Marathon's charity partners on their website.
  • International Tour Program: Those who opt to join an official Chicago Marathon international tour partner can guarantee their spot in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon at any time during the lottery entry period. This will require purchasing a tour that includes travel costs. Refer to the Chicago Marathon's International Tour Program page for more details.
  • Chicago Marathon Legacy Finisher: Those who have finished the Chicago Marathon five or more times within the last 10 years can guarantee their spot in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon at any time during the lottery entry period.
  • Time Qualifier: The race instituted new time qualifiers in 2018 that is based on age and gender standards. The age bracket is determined by your age on race day. You must have completed a USATF-certified course within the time frame from January 1 of the year prior to your application through the date of your application. For example, January 1, 2016, for applications submitted in October through November 2017 for the 2018 race. The time qualifiers may be modified the future. Here is an example of the qualifying times for the 2018 race:
Age GroupMenWomen
16 to 293:10:003:40:00
30 to 393:15:003:45:00
40 to 493:25:003:55:00
50 to 593:40:004:15:00
60 to 694:00:004:55:00
70 to 794:30:005:45:00
80 and over5:10:006:30:00

Non-Guaranteed Entry

If you don't meet the requirements for any of the guaranteed entry programs, you can still apply for the lottery for a chance at an entry. You must apply during the announced application window.

Finish Time Requirement

The event is open to slow runners and walkers who can maintain the pace to finish in 6 hours, 30 minutes Course support is removed on a 15 minutes per mile basis after the last start wave.

If you aren't at this pace, you are required to move to the sidewalk as the street will be opened to traffic. Aid stations will also be closed down on that time schedule. If finishing past the time requirement, you may not receive an official finish time. The race reserves the right to remove slower racers from the course.