It’s no secret that the Chicago Marathon is one of the fastest 26.2-mile races in the country, and this year’s event proved it. On Sunday, October 13, Brigid Kosgei of Kenya finished first for women in a new world record time of 2:14:04, shaving a minute and 21 seconds off the mark Paula Radcliffe set in 2003. Kenyan Lawrence Cherono won the men’s race in 2:05:45, becoming the first man since 2006 to win both Boston and Chicago in the same year.
If you want to be one of the 45,000 runners lining up to chase a personal record next year, read on to learn how to enter the 43rd Chicago Marathon, which takes place October 11, 2020.
Registration and Fees
To be eligible to run Chicago, you have to be at least 16 years old on race day, and you must be able to finish a marathon in six hours and 30 minutes or faster. Registration for Chicago 2020 opens on Monday, October 21 at 10 a.m. CT for non-guaranteed entry and charity participants. Runners applying for guaranteed entry (see below for requirements) can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. CT on Monday, October 28. All runners must apply by 2 p.m. CT on Tuesday, December 3, when the registration window closes.
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The entry fee is $205 for U.S. residents and $230 for non-U.S. residents. Your credit card will only be charged when and if you’re approved and accepted into the race.
How to Time-Qualify for Chicago 2020
There are a couple of ways to guarantee a spot in Chicago 2020. First, runners can get in with a fast marathon time recorded sometime between January 1, 2018 and December 3, 2019. If you submit a qualifying marathon time, you will be notified within 10 business days if your time has been verified and approved. If your time isn’t approved, your name will be automatically switched to the non-guaranteed entry drawing.
Here are the men’s and women’s time qualifying standards for Chicago 2020, broken down by age group:
- 16 to 29 years old (3:05 for men, 3:35 for women)
- 30 to 39 (3:10 for men, 3:40 for women)
- 40 to 49 (3:20 for men, 3:50 for women)
- 50 to 59 (3:35 for men, 4:20 for women)
- 60 to 69 (4:00 for men, 5:00 for women)
- 70 to 79 (4:30 for men, 5:55 for women)
- 80-plus (5:25 for men, 6:10 for women)
If your marathon PR is much faster than the qualifying standard—or you have a studly half marathon time—you might be able to guarantee your spot in 2020 through the American Development Program. To qualify, men must run a sub-1:11 half marathon or sub-2:35 marathon; masters men (age 40 and up) must run sub-1:15 or sub-2:43; women must run sub-1:20 half or sub-2:55 marathon; and masters women (age 40 and up) must run sub-1:25 half or sub-3:05 marathon. All eligible races must have been finished between January 1, 2018 and September 1, 2020.
Finally, elite and sub-elite athletes may apply for guaranteed (and complimentary) entry if they hit these high-performance standards: For men, a sub-1:07 half marathon or sub-2:23 marathon; for masters men, sub-1:11 half marathon or sub-2:32 marathon; for women, sub-1:16 half marathon or sub-2:43 marathon; for masters women, sub-1:21 half marathon or sub-2:23 marathon.
Other Ways to Score Guaranteed Entry
If you don’t have a time-qualifier, don’t worry—there are other ways to snag a bib. If you’ve finished Chicago five or more times within the last 10 years (2009 to 2019), you can claim guaranteed entry as a Chicago Marathon legacy finisher. Also, if you have finished four or more Shamrock Shuffle 8K races since 2008 and you have signed up for next year’s race on March 22, 2020, you can claim guaranteed entry into Chicago as a Shamrock Shuffle legacy runner.
If you were registered for the 2019 race but had to cancel your entry because of injury or another issue, you can claim guaranteed entry in the 2020 race—but you must pay the registration fee again.
You can also score guaranteed entry into 2020 by running for a charity. While fundraising requirements vary by organization, the Chicago Marathon requires charity entrants to raise at least $1,250 if applying during the registration window and $1,750 if applying after the application window closes. To read more about the organizations participating in the Chicago 2020 charity program, click here.
Enter the Drawing
For runners who haven’t time-qualified and don’t meet the criteria for other avenues of guaranteed entry, the final way to enter Chicago is to apply for non-guaranteed entry through the drawing, which opens on October 21. Runners can apply until the registration window closes on December 3, and they are notified of their acceptance or rejection by December 12.
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If you apply for non-guaranteed entry but your name is not chosen, you can still register to run under one of Chicago’s official charities or tour groups.
Whichever way you make it to the start line, we hope to see you in the Windy City next year!