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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. In 2014, the Chicago Marathon earned silver level event sustainability certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. As we strive for gold level certification with the Council for Responsible Sport in 2016, please consider how you can help us achieve this goal.

New Sustainability Initiatives for 2016

  • Water filling stations providing filtered water will be available in Grant Park, including gear check areas and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 27th Mile Post-Race Party, reducing the need for single use plastic water bottles at the event.
  • The Alliance for the Great Lakes, an organization dedicated to conserving and restoring the world’s largest freshwater resource, will be educating Abbott Health & Fitness Expo attendees on the importance of water conservation
  • Additional Green Team volunteers and sorting stations will be located throughout runner refreshment area, gear check and 27th Mile Post-Race Party areas in Grant Park to increase the event’s waste diversion rates.
  • A sustainability report will be published, highlighting the results from our waste diversion efforts, water usage and conservation efforts as well as strides made in race inclusiveness and positive social impact.
  • Locally sourced food and beverages, including apples from the Michigan Apple Committee and Goose Island beer brewed in Chicago, will be provided to finishers in the runner refreshment area.
  • The International Chicago 5K, providing access to the marathon weekend experience for those unable to participate in the Chicago Marathon, will be introduced in 2016.

Abbott Health & Fitness Expo

  • McCormick Place, home to the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo, is the world’s largest convention center to be a 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 will be provided to visitors, reducing the carbon footprint of participants picking up their race packets.
  • Participant t-shirts from Nike are made from 100% recycled polyester from the Nike Better World Collection, a sustainable clothing line.
  • Recycling efforts at McCormick Place include paper, plastic and aluminum as well as wood pallets and other exhibitor waste.
  • All electricity used at the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo is offset with clean, affordable wind energy, a commitment of McCormick Place.
  • Race bibs not picked up at the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo will be sorted by volunteers and recycled.

Race day

  • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon actively provides athletes with services and divisions for wheelchairs and exhibition handcycles, including Duo Teams.
  • Participants and spectators are encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by taking advantage of a variety of public transportation options with increased levels of service from CTA, Metra and Divvy on race day.
  • Banana peels offered at aid stations will be composted.
  • Green Team volunteers will be stationed in Grant Park’s runner refreshment, gear check and Bank of America Chicago Marathon 27th Mile Post-Race Party areas to oversee waste diversion efforts, ensuring plastic bottles and Heatsheets get recycled and banana peels and Gatorade cups get composted.
  • 100% recycled paper products are provided at 1,500 portable restrooms and 40 hand washing stations in Grant Park and on the course route.
  • Discarded clothing collected from the start line will be collected and donated to Pacific Garden Mission and AmVet.
  • Remaining food and water from the Runner Refresh area will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository post-race.
  • Flower arrangements from hospitality tents will be donated to Ronald McDonald House.


  • Thousands of event volunteers will be trained on the Hands-Only CPR method.
  • Giving back to the Chicago Park District through annual support of the Chicago Park District Cross Country Championships.
  • 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 are assembled. This event is one of OE’s largest annual fundraisers.
  • A catalyst for community involvement and volunteerism, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon involves 10,000 volunteers from over 100 local groups.

Beyond race day

  • The Bank of America 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.
  • The Hilton Chicago, the Bank of America 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 2015.
  • Street pole banners and unusable coroplast signage are recycled with a local plastics recycler post-race.
  • Downloads of the event’s mobile application, helping disseminate information digitally, rather than in print form, are available to participants and spectators.
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