In 1976 a small band of running enthusiasts met at the Metropolitan YMCA on LaSalle Street to plan a marathon in Chicago. Backed by the athletic enthusiasm of the new Chicago Mayor, Michael Bilandic, and the leadership of Lee Flaherty, this founding group realized their vision on September 25 1977, hosting 4,200 local participants in the first Chicago Marathon. It has since expanded to 45,000 registered runners and an estimated 1.7 million on-course spectators.
The flat course begins and ends in Chicago’s historic Grant Park, sweeping through 29 diverse and colorful neighborhoods including Lakeview, Greektown, Little Italy, Pilsen, Chinatown, and Bronzeville. The loop course and abundance of public transport options enable friends and family to cheer their runners on at many locations along the course.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a long history of hosting the world's fastest runners and has been the site of two men's world records (by Steve Jones who ran 2:08:05 in 1984, and by Khalid Khannouchi who clocked 2:05:42 in 1999) and two women's world records (in 2001 when Catherine Ndereba ran 2:18:47, and in 2002 when Paula Radcliffe clocked 2:17:18).