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Countdown to the big race, October 11, 2020

Sustainability

Aerial photo of runners in start corrals at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Incorporating environmentally and socially responsible practices is an important part of the operational planning and production of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The Chicago Marathon sustainability program focuses on environmental stewardship, community engagement and outreach, accessibility and innovation.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Sustainability timeline

2010 – The event receives certification from the Council for Responsible Sport.
2014 – Increased sustainability efforts earn the event Silver Level certification.
2016 – The Bank of America Chicago Marathon becomes the largest marathon to earn Evergreen Level certification.
2018 – After achieving multiple certifications, the Council for Responsible Sport recognizes the race’s commitment and legacy within the sport and awards the Chicago Marathon Evergreen Inspire Status.
2019 – The Marathon becomes an early signatory of the United Nation’s “Sports for Climate Action” initiative.


  • Planning and communications

    Responsibly producing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon requires strategic planning, accurate measurement and effective communication of our sustainability efforts.

    • Bank of America Chicago Marathon selects venues that minimize environmental impact and provide access to all individuals.
    • The closed-loop design of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course lessens the distance runners travel to get to the start line race morning. Reduce your environmental impact race weekend by using public transportation.
    • Amenities at all 20 aid stations on course are collected for composting and recycling, helping to divert waste from landfills.
    • The Chicago public transportation system is the perfect way for spectators to get around the city sustainably. View the CTA information in the online event spectator guide to find the viewing areas close to the train stations.
    • Visit the Sustainability area of the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo to learn how you can be more sustainable race weekend. Bring the tips you learn back home to better your own community.
    • Help us improve our efforts! Each year, we incorporate new ideas and initiatives. Share your thoughts with us by filling out the post-event survey.
  • Procurement

    As one of the largest marathons in the world, we realize the impact of how we source and purchase event materials. For this reason, we make an effort to incorporate local and sustainably sourced products and services, as well as reducing the use of resources whenever possible.

    • Race materials are provided to runners and spectators digitally at chicagomarathon.com, as well as through the official Bank of America Chicago Marathon App, presented by TCS. Download the App versus printing event materials.
    • The Hilton Chicago, the official Bank of America Chicago Marathon headquarter hotel, was the named 2017 Illinois Sustainable Technology Center “Illinois Sustainability Award winner.”
    • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon works with local businesses to source products with sustainable attributes for the event. A local sign manufacturer uses fabric used to made from recycled plastic bottles to produce our Zero waste stations.
    • Participant shirts are made from 100% recycled polyester. Material from recycled plastic bottles, uses less energy, water and oil than virgin polyester.
    • When communicating with participants, event staff and volunteers the Bank of America Chicago Marathon uses digital communication methods to limit the usage of paper items.
    • The event requires food vendors to adhere to guidelines for acceptable recyclable and compostable materials which includes banning the use of styrofoam in Grant Park and at the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo.
  • Resource management

    A challenge all events face is responsibly managing energy and waste. We work to minimize our carbon footprint by focusing on waste diversion, energy conservation, renewable energy sources and the use of alternative transportation.

    • Use the Zero Waste Stations race weekend when disposing of waste. Green Team Volunteers at the stations will help divert materials from the landfill by identifying items that can be recycled or composted. Zero Waste Stations also educate participants and spectators the proper way to dispose of various waste items.
    • Zero Waste Stations collect difficult to recycle items to send them to Terracycle for processing. Organic waste collected at the Zero Waste Stations will be turned into nutrient-rich soil and donated to local community gardens.
    • Heatsheet blankets collected at the finish line are processed and turned into composite wood boards. These boards are used to create benches for installation in local community gardens.
    • Clothing discarded at the start line is donated to Illinois AmVets.
    • The clear plastic participant bag runners receive is reusable. Once you’re ready to dispose of the bag please recycle.
    • Unused food and water resources from the finish line are donated to the Chicago Food Depository.
    • The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo venue the McCormick Place offsets their electrical usage with alternate energy resources. When traveling to the Health & Fitness Expo limit your impact by using one of the free Bank of America Chicago Marathon shuttles.
    • Water filling stations are located throughout Grant Park for runners, volunteers and spectators. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle to fill instead of grabbing a single-use plastic bottle.
    • Following the event, we will calculate our carbon footprint and purchase carbon offsets to reduce the overall event impact.
    • When traveling to and from the event, choose travel options that reduce your carbon footprint. A great way to start is by using public transportation.
  • Access and equity

    Improve equality among runners and providing access to underrepresented groups is a critical part of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and our efforts to be more socially responsible.

    • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a formal access and equity policy and is committed to innovating adaptative sports.
    • The event provides guide runners to athletes who request additional assistance.
    • Gender-neutral changing facilities are available to runners prior to and following the race.
    • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon undergoes ADA compliance exercises, to ensure every component of the event is as accessible as possible.
    • The Elite Athlete Mentor Program is a partnership between the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wheelchair sports program. It is designed to provide mentorship and inspiration to children living with permanent disabilities who are interested in wheelchair sports.
    • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon participant guide is translated into eight different languages, so all athletes receive important race information.
    • The 2019 Athletes for Disabilities program has been expanded to include a separate prize division for athletes classified as T51/T52.
    • Visually impaired athletes are awarded Bank of America Chicago Marathon braille medals as they cross the finish line.
  • Community and legacy

    Every year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon positively impacts the Chicago economy. This impact provides opportunities to unite diverse groups and create new pathways to civic pride.

    • Runners and spectators can help support local economy race weekend by visiting and shopping at local businesses.
    • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon annually supports the Chicago Park District Cross Country Championship by helping host the qualifying youth races and championship meet.
    • Over 10,000 runners make their marathon journey more impactful by running on behalf of a cause they are passionate about. Learn more about running for charity by visiting the Charity teams page.
    • All participants, volunteers and event staff receive access to an instructional Hands-Only CPR video.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Evergreen Inspire Event

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is a Council for Responsible Sport Evergreen Inspire Event. This award is in recognition of our sustained commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Inspire event status is awarded by invitation only to events that have achieved multiple certifications from the Council, to recognize the legacy that sporting events committed to sustainability and thoughtful resource management provide to their audiences and communities. The Chicago Marathon was first certified by the Council for Responsible Sport in 2010 and is currently the largest marathon to be certified by the Council.

Council for Responsible Sport Evergreen Inspire seal


Bank of America Abbott World Marathon Majors IAAF Gold Label Event

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