Chicago Marathon 2021: Thousands set to run 26.2 miles with COVID protocols in place

Thousands of runners are prepared to join Sunday's Chicago Marathon.

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Saturday, October 9, 2021
Chicago Marathon 2021 preps underway
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Chicago marathon participants are set to run 26.2 miles Sunday morning regardless of the weather.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- They are pumped and ready to run. More than 33,000 runners from 100 countries are expected to take part in the 43rd running of the Chicago Marathon, which was canceled last year because of COVID.

A group of marathoners from the Dominican Republic is set to run 26.2 miles Sunday morning regardless of the hot weather.

"We're coming from the Caribbean so it's going to be great weather. It's not going to bother you at all. No of course not," said Norberto Nivar.

There are some changes this year due to the pandemic, like having no bleachers at the finish line in Grant Park. Organizers are limiting the field. There are 25 percent fewer runners than 2019.

Participants are also required to be fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID within 72 hours of the race.

"We're just following the local guidance and information. We're confident we'll have a safe event," said Carey Pinkowski, marathon executive director.

After cancelling last year's in-person race, Pinkowski says he's happy to be back.

"It's a unique experience and a challenge, and we're gonna celebrate that," Pinkowski said. This will be the first major marathon held in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

The Boston Marathon the next day will be the second.

Chicago Marathon offers rare chance to run back-to-back with Boston

Runners began checking in at McCormick Place Friday morning.

"It's a huge rush of emotion," said runner Erin Wilkerson. "At the time that I signed up this year would have been January and so I really felt there was only a 50/50 shot that we were gonna get to have it, so getting to be here is pretty surreal."

Joe Lance traveled from Houston, Texas is excited to get back on the marathon circuit.

"You miss the camaraderie running with your fellow runners and everyone's gonna be excited," Lance said. "Hopefully, the fans are out and it just makes it so intense."

Antonella Dilaura is in Chicago from Peru.

"I don't know how to describe it but it's just amazing," Dilaura said. "I mean the city is beautiful, the people running you know with all the masks out and everything it's like we're finally getting back to normal."

Corey Wallace from Pennsylvania hopes for a safe and fun race.

"I'm really looking forward to the weather," Wallace said. "I know it's going to be a little bit warm. but I know in Pennsylvania this is kind of like the second summer for us."

The Chicago Marathon route travels through 29 neighborhoods for the 26.2-mile race,

Race organizers expect more than one million spectators to line city streets along the Marathon route.

Chicago marathon road closures

Street closures in the Grant Park area began on Monday with the closure of Balbo from Columbus to DuSable Lake Shore Drive at 10 a.m. Additional street closures for race day at the start/finish line area can be expected through the weekend, including:

Thursday, October 7: Columbus Drive from Roosevelt to Ida B. Wells closed and reopen on Monday, October 11 at 6 a.m.

Friday, October 8: Columbus Drive from Ida B. Wells to Monroe closed at 4 a.m. and reopen on Sunday, October 10 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 9: Columbus Drive from Randolph to Monroe Street will be closed at 6 a.m. and open on October 10 at noon.

All streets will fully reopen by Monday, October 11 at 6 a.m.