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Incorporating environmentally and socially responsible practices is an important part of the operational planning, preparation and execution of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Learn what we are doing to make the Chicago Marathon a leader in event sustainability.


The 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon was recertified as a sustainable event by the Council for Responsible Sport ( The Chicago Marathon is the largest marathon in the world to be certified. Thank you to all the participants, spectators, sponsors, and volunteers for helping make a difference in how the event is produced.

New initiatives

  • More than five tons of compostable cups and banana peels were collected and diverted from landfills at four on-course Aid Stations
  • Event catering partner Blue Plate is the only caterer in Chicago to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association
  • 100% recycled paper products were dispensed at 1,500 portable restrooms and 40 hand washing stations on race day
  • The Chicago Marathon’s main warehouse facility was powered entirely by renewable energy, and by doing so cut down on more than 22,000 pounds of carbon emissions
  • Discarded clothing from the start line was collected (enough to fill approximately 300 square feet of truck space) and donated to Pacific Garden Mission

Continuing practices (Expo)

  • Participant T-shirts, a product of Nike’s Considered Design line, were made from recycled polyester
  • Free shuttles transported nearly a third of all visitors to the Chicago Marathon Health & Fitness Expo
  • Nearly half of all waste at the Expo—7.59 tons of fiber, wood, plastic, and metal—was recycled
  • Expo visitors were encouraged to bike to the Expo or to take advantage of nearby public transportation, including CTA and Metra
  • Race bibs that were not picked up at the Health & Fitness Expo were recycled by partner Allied Waste

Continuing practices (race day)

  • 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
  • 20 tons of cardboard boxes and plastic jugs were recycled from on-course Aid Stations
  • More than 27,000 pounds of remaining food and water was donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository post-race
  • 28,000 gallons of water was donated to non-profits post-race
  • Compostable coffee cups were used by event staff
  • Sponsor Goose Island provided its own recycling bins to encourage the recycling of 312-brand plastic cups used at the 27th Mile Post-Race Party
  • Green Team volunteers were stationed throughout the Post-Race Party to assist visitors discard appropriately of trash in recycle, compost or garbage bins

Continuing efforts (pre- and post-race)

  • Opportunity Enterprises, a local charity that creates sustainable life choices and opportunities for individuals with physical and mental challenges, hosted a “Pack-A-Thon” where all 45,000 participant bags for race participants were assembled; the event is one of OE’s largest annual fundraisers
  • More than 99% of Chicago Marathon participants registered online, and race finishers received digital finisher certificates, reducing the use of paper and mailing materials
  • The Hilton Chicago, the Chicago Marathon’s official host hotel, is Green Seal Bronze Certified, and McCormick Place’s West Building, home of the Health & Fitness Expo, is LEED Certified.

Additional efforts

  • The Chicago Marathon is a catalyst for community involvement and volunteerism with more than 12,000 volunteers from 130 local volunteer groups
  • The Chicago Marathon promotes youth fitness through the Nike Northside/Southside Challenge, which is a 2.62-mile race for more than 300 local high school student-athletes
  • The Chicago Marathon welcomes athletes with disabilities into it the wheelchair division and exhibition handcycle event
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