Incorporating environmentally and socially responsible practices is an important part of the operational planning, preparation and execution of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. In 2014 the Chicago Marathon earned silver level event sustainability certification from the Council for Responsible Sport (councilforresponsiblesport.org). The event was certified in 2012 and 2010, and is the largest marathon in the world to be certified. Learn more about silver certification event initiatives below. Thank you to our participants, spectators, sponsors, vendors and volunteers for helping us produce a more sustainable event.
What was new in 2014
- Divvy, Chicago’s popular bike share program and the marathon’s Healthy Transportation Partner, offered valet service at Divvy’s McCormick Place station during the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo hours and at two Grant Park stations on race day to ensure visitors could always take or dock a bike.
- International participants received a digital version of the Participant Guide, available in 8 languages. Going digital cut down on printing and mailing saving approximately 9,000 guides.
- In partnership with Northwestern University, a mobile application allowed Aid Station staff to see how many participants passed through their station at any point in time, allowing them to make proactive decisions as to how much fluid to pour or conserve.
- For the first time in history, the marathon’s tangent line, the shortest possible route, was painted on the city streets using environmentally friendly, lead free paint!
Abbott Health & Fitness Expo
- McCormick Place, home to the Health & Fitness Expo, has become the world’s largest convention center to be certified sustainable venue under the APEX-ASTM standard pertaining to the evaluation and selection of venues for environmentally sustainable meetings, events, trade shows and conferences.
- Free shuttles transported more than a third of all visitors, over 53,000 people, to the Chicago Marathon Health & Fitness Expo in 2014.
- Participant T-shirts, a product of Nike’s Considered Design line, were made from 100% recycled polyester.
- 77% of all waste at the Expo—19.46 tons of fiber, wood, plastic, and metal—was recycled.
- Event Virtual Bag received over 79,000 views, an encouraging number in the move towards a paperless participant bag.
- All electricity used at the Health & Fitness Expo is offset with clean, affordable wind energy, a commitment of McCormick Place.
- Race bibs that were not picked up at the Health & Fitness Expo were sorted by volunteers and recycled.
- 100% recycled paper products were dispensed at 1,500 portable restrooms and 40 hand washing stations in Grant Park and on the course route.
- The Chicago Marathon actively provides athletes’ with services and divisions for wheelchair and exhibition handcycle.
- All participants and spectators were encouraged to take advantage of a variety of public transportation options and increased levels of service from both CTA and Metra to get to and from the start and finish line areas in Grant Park.
- Aid Station material diversion rate, or material diverted from a landfill, climbed from 20% in 2010 to over 50% by 2013. By refining composting and recycling collection efforts these numbers will continue to improve.
- Compostable coffee cups and lids were purchased for volunteers to use race day in Grant Park as styrofoam is not permitted.
- Over 60 Green Team volunteers were stationed in Grant Park’s Runner Refreshment and gear check areas to oversee material collection and diversion efforts, as well as assist with clothing collection for donation on the start line.
- Discarded clothing collected from the start line filled more than three box trucks and was donated to Pacific Garden Mission and AmVet.
- More than 25,000 pounds of remaining food and water was donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository post-race.
- A catalyst for community involvement and volunteerism, the Chicago Marathon involves 10,000 volunteers from over 100 local groups.
- Inspiring the next generation of runners and promoting youth fitness, Nike and the Chicago Marathon host the Northside/Southside Challenge, a 2.62-mile race for more than 300 local high school student-athletes to compete in an invitational meet on the marathon course while the race is in progress. This year the first wheelchair athlete participated in the Challenge.
Beyond race day
- The Chicago Marathon’s main warehouse facility has been powered in part by renewable energy since 2012, and by doing so has cut down on thousands of pounds of carbon emissions.
- Start corral submissions are received by an electronic fax rather than printed upon receipt, as with a traditional fax. Additional paper saving efforts include digital finisher certificates and online registration for participants and volunteers.
- The Hilton Chicago, the Chicago Marathon’s official host hotel, became the first hotel in Illinois to be recognized for the Governor’s Sustainability Award as well as the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association’s Good Earthkeeping Hotel for 2013.
- Opportunity Enterprises, a local charity that creates sustainable life choices and opportunities for individuals with physical and mental challenges, hosts an annual “Pack-A-Thon” where all bags for race participants were assembled. This event is one of OE’s largest annual fundraisers.
- Street pole banners and unusable coroplast signage are recycled with a local plastics recycler post-race.
- Over 35,000 downloads of the event’s mobile application, helping disseminate information digitally, rather than in print form, to participants and spectators.