2018 Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

My first day of Chicago Marathon weekend was incredibly similar to last year’s first day.  It involved flying to Chicago, meeting up with my parents, going to the expo, and then having a low key dinner to end the day.

On the plane to Chicago

We landed at Chicago O’Hare shortly before 10 am, but between the rainy weather and busier than usual traffic on the ground we were put into a holding pattern on the ground.  We circled the entire airport on the ground, and almost 25 minutes later were then sent to a holding area on the far end of the airport near the international terminal.  Although our gate was open, there were too many planes in the way to be able to get to our gate.  An hour after landing we were finally parked at the gate and able to get off of the plane.

After getting our luggage from baggage claim we made the underground walk to the airport “L” station.  At the station you could already feel the excitement of race weekend, as tons of runners were there, ready to begin their trek to downtown.  It was little man’s first time riding a subway train, so you can imagine just how excited he was anticipating the ride and then during the ride itself.  About half an hour later we arrived downtown and began the 10 minute walk to our hotel.

Ready to get Chicago Marathon weekend underway!

My parents had already arrived at the hotel and checked into their room.  Given that it was already past 1:00, and not only well past little man’s lunch time but also the start of his nap time, they greeted us with food for him.  While they enjoyed time with their grandson and watched him eat his lunch, my husband and I got settled into our room, and shortly afterwards left little man with his grandparents while we grabbed food ourselves.  After a quick lunch, I headed to the expo on my own.

Just like when I walked into McCormick Place last year, I once again could immediately feel the excitement of race weekend immediately upon arrival.  After picking up my bib just outside of the expo itself I browsed some of the vendors on the expo floor as I made my way to the back wall, where all of the t-shirt and participant bag booths were set up.  Despite it being mid-afternoon on opening day of the expo, there were virtually no lines anywhere to be found, and I walked right up to retrieve the rest of my official race items.

The packet pick up area at the entrance to the expo

Bag and t-shirt booths were lined against the back wall of the expo floor.

As I continued to browse the vendors at this year’s expo, I took advantage of a number of the photo ops available on the expo floor.  Given that I am of the mindset that you can never take too many pictures, I love that Chicago Marathon offers a wide variety of photo opportunities for runners.

I was very excited to be able to run my second marathon.

One of my stops was at the Team RMHC booth, where I picked up my race morning essentials, including my bib sticker needed to access the team tent on race day, as well as wristbands for my husband and sister for race day so that they could join me in the tent.  They also receive finish line grandstand wristbands, which they were incredibly grateful for, as it allowed them to see me cross the finish line of the race.

Running with Team Ronald McDonald House Charities once again made my marathon experience an incredibly meaningful one.

One of my last stops at the expo was at the official Nike merchandise store, where I purchased a grey half zip with this year’s Chicago Marathon logo on it.  My only other purchase at the expo was some Feetures socks since I found a shop that was running a great expo promotion.

After spending just under two hours at the expo, I made my way to the bus pickup area to take the complimentary transportation back to downtown.  After being dropped off at the Nike Store on Michigan Avenue, I made the approximately 15 minute walk back to our hotel, met back up with my family, and then we headed across the street for a delicious steak dinner.  Eating steak, one of the many foods that Chicago is famous for, was a great way to end the first day of Chicago Marathon weekend.

Ready to run 26.2 miles!

Incredibly excited for the rest of marathon weekend!

QOTD: What is your favorite part about race expos?

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15 Responses to 2018 Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

  1. Liz Dexter says:

    Oh this looks great and is very useful as I’d really like to do Chicago one day. I’ve only been to one expo, the one for Reykjavik, and I got totally freaked out and panicky in the queue among all these super-tall, proper runners in a right old bundle. Also I hated having my finisher’s tshirt before I’d run the race and gave it to my husband to hide from me!! It did calm down and I met two lovely American ladies and also the lady on the powerade stall told me which version it was going to be on the course, which hadn’t been clear. I’d like to go to one of the massive ones, most people I know buy a million books at them!

  2. Darlene says:

    Yes I agree. You can never have too many photos. I took quite a few at the 20km expo in Paris. Can’t wait to read about the race.

  3. kookyrunner says:

    What a busy, but fun day! I remember how crazy busy and packed the Expo was last year but it looks like you picked a great time to go there. The lines didn’t seem nearly as long!

    What i love most about the expo is something you named, the excitement. Everyone just seems to be full of joy and a little fear, but happy to be at the expo to take part in the race weekend festivities.

  4. Lindsay says:

    Sounds like the perfect race expo experience… so glad you guys were able to make it in to Chicago before the craziness all started. I do think the Chicago Marathon race directors have a good handle on how to host a race expo!
    My favorite part of the expo is seeing all the new products that I’d otherwise be oblivious to.
    Are you thinking about running Chicago again??

  5. chaitali says:

    Sounds like a great expo! I love when there are plenty of photo ops and no lines 🙂

  6. Lesley says:

    Sounds like a great expo. After my first one at Disney, I’m usually in and out, unless there is a vendor I absolutely need to visit.

  7. I always love a big race expo. Gets me so excited for the race day

  8. Smitha says:

    Love race expos and Chicago was certainly one of the best!!

  9. runswithpugs says:

    It’s funny, I never really buy anything at expos. Maybe a souvenir shirt or if there’s something REALLY cool and different, I might get it, but I am very overwhelmed by all the choices. I do love running into people I know and getting a good feel for the vibe of the race.

  10. Kaila Proulx says:

    I am hoping to run Chicago next year and this just makes me more excited! Registering tomorrow! Fingers crossed.

  11. I love expos and always spend $$$ when I go to one. Great recap, I should be running this race next year (had to defer this year)!

  12. angela@marathonsandmotivation.com says:

    The race expo sounds like so much fun! I love all the pictures you shared too!!

  13. runninglikeadork says:

    I loved the expo! I went Friday afternoon and though there were lots of people, it did not feel crowded. I don’t get a lot of shopping-for-me time – it’s usually for the kids! – , so I took advantage and picked up lots of stuff. I also enjoyed watching people try to run 200m as fast as Eliud Kipchoge!

  14. Cari says:

    Looks like a fun expo, and I hear you re” the photos. I was such a ham at Cherry Blossom.

  15. Karen :0) says:

    Love all the photo opportunities at the expo! Pre-race excitement at expos is always the best!! This sounds like a great race – I would love to run it one day.

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