Chicago Marathon: Tighter security for runners, spectators

August 29, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is in in its 36th year, and 45,000 runners are registered for the October 13 event, which starts in Grant Park. Millions of people gather each year to line the 26-mile route and cheer them on. "We're very close to the Boston Marathon, and it's something we're keenly aware of," Carey Pinkowksi, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, said.

Pinkowski was in Boston on April 15 when two bombs went off near that marathon's finish line. Like runners around the world, he says he felt a deep sense of sorrow that someone had targeted the innocent sport of running for terrorism.

Chicago Area Runners Association Director Wendy Jaehn was there, too. She said the Boston bombing has had an impact on races around the area since.

"It's a marathon, so they're doing what they can, and, again, these additional little tweaks, they're nothing I haven't seen in other races," Jaehn said.

After working with police and other city authorities, Chicago Marathon officials announced a few changes to beef up security – including in-person packet pickup, bag screening at the runner-only entrance, and runners will only be allowed to carry transparent, race-provided bags into Grant Park.

"We're very confident that the police department, our city agencies we work with, volunteers, everyone involved in the production of the event will deliver a safe, secure, positive race experience," Pinkowski said.

Chicago Marathon officials said there were also be other security measure in place, but those will not be made public.

Officials released the following details:

  • Runners must pick up their own Participant Packets-which include their event-issued bib numbers, timing devices, event T-shirts and Participant Bags-at the Health & Fitness Expo (Oct. 11 - Oct. 12). The event will no longer allow individuals to pick up packets on behalf of others.
  • Individuals entering Grant Park on race day will pass through one of four designated security and bag screening checkpoints located off of Michigan Avenue. Runners should affix their event-issued bib number to their attire in a visible manner to ease entry into the Park, and spectators are strongly discouraged from carrying bags into Grant Park to maintain an efficient flow of pedestrians.
    • Runners will only be able to bring inside the perimeter of Grant Park on race day a clear, plastic event-issued Participant Bag. This bag is the only one that will be accepted at the designated Gear Check tents, and will help expedite the bag screening process.
    • As in years past, general spectators will not have access to the race start and finish line areas within Grant Park on race day, as these areas will only be accessible to participants displaying their event-issued bib numbers, event staff with proper credentials, and ticketed guests (where applicable).
    • The Marathon recommends spectators support runners from elsewhere on the course, and meet runners after the race at the designated Runner Reunite Area in Grant Park's Butler Field, which will be open to spectators at 9 a.m.

    More details on the race are available at

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