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Countdown to the big race, October 13, 2019

Key volunteer application

Key volunteers help fulfill critical leadership and management roles on race weekend. Becoming a key volunteer is a great opportunity for people looking to translate their experience, enthusiasm and passion into a higher level commitment to the event. Applicants must have previous volunteer experience with the Chicago Marathon or another large road-racing event.

  • Responsibilities

    Key volunteers…

    • Are enthusiastic and dedicated individuals who want to gain more experience with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
    • Help manage, lead and instruct groups of volunteers, often in conjunction with a team of fellow Key Volunteers and Event Staff.
    • Commit additional time to the event for pre-race meetings and race weekend set-up.
    • Assist with race operations, processes, organization and improvement (i.e. some key volunteers do not manage other groups of volunteers).
    • Have previous volunteer experience with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K or another major racing event.


    Key volunteers assigned to Grant Park, the course or the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo must be available on the following dates:

    • Grant Park
      • Saturday, September 23: Event Production Meeting
      • Saturday, October 7: Grant Park walk-through
      • Sunday, October 8: Race day from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. Exact shift times vary.
    • Course
      • Sunday, October 8: Race day from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. Exact shift times vary.
    • Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place
      • Saturday, September 23: Event Production Meeting
      • Thursday, October 6: Expo setup (optional)
      • Friday, October 6 and Saturday, October 7: Expo from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Applicants must be available for the entirety of both days.
  • Roles

    Grant Park

    • Start lineHundreds of volunteers help organize the thousands of participants race morning by regulating access to start corrals, controlling pedestrian crosswalks and keeping participants organized as they advance to the start. Key Volunteers will oversee start corral volunteers and operations, providing instructions and management throughout the morning.
    • Finish lineFinish line volunteers distribute medals, heatsheets, water, Gatorade, food and beer, as well as assist with the set-up and clean-up of their respective stations. Key Volunteers, in conjunction with operations staff, manage two shifts of volunteers in designated finish line areas to ensure continuous participant flow and efficient distribution of materials.
    • Information team – On race day, Information Team volunteers are stationed throughout Grant Park to help answer event-related questions and direct eager participants and spectators to key destinations. Key Volunteers, with the support of their Captain, oversee a designated zone and team of volunteers within the park.
    • Harrison Volunteer Compound – Nearly 3,000 volunteers visit the Harrison Volunteer Compound to check in, pick up their uniform, enjoy hospitality and check their gear prior to being escorted to their respective stations in Grant Park. Key Volunteers help manage compound operations and processes, ensuring that general volunteers depart HVC prepared and ready to tackle their tasks.
    • Green Team – The Bank of America Chicago Marathon takes event sustainability seriously. Important initiatives include collecting items that can be diverted from the landfill and items that can be donated to charity. Key Volunteers work with general volunteers in high traffic areas to collect items that can be recycled, composted or donated, by educating and directing participants on what goes where.
    • Gear check – Gear Check Key Volunteers help oversee the volunteers and operations of the three gear check tents. Responsibilities include keeping gear organized, and keeping volunteers on task and up to speed. Key Volunteers will also assist in the event of long queuing, a missing bag or missing gear incidents.
    • Open to opportunities – Key Volunteers who are flexible and open to roles anywhere need demands are highly sought after and always appreciated. Individuals without preference to an area could be placed on any of the teams mentioned above. In addition, select areas of the event, such as the Post-Race Party, Charity Village or hospitality venues, have limited roles, but need trustworthy leads to help oversee them.


    • Course marshal – The course is divided into 11 different neighborhood course marshal zones, of which a pair of Key Volunteers oversees one zone and it’s volunteers. Key Volunteers facilitate check in, distribute uniforms and assignments, and check in with the Captain and their zone’s volunteers throughout the event. Key Volunteers must have experience in this role and live in the neighborhood to be considered.
    • Aid station – Aid Station Key Volunteers are most often assigned by their Captains, but sometimes they need help filling a few last roles. Apply to help manage the volunteers and operations of an aid station on the course route. Be it Gatorade distribution, volunteer check-in, supply inventory or another role, a team of 15-20 Key Volunteers supports each of the 20 aid stations on course.

    Abbott Health & Fitness Expo

    • The Health & Fitness Expo officially kicks off race weekend and is often the very first stop for many participants, bringing months of planning and preparation to life. The Expo will be held Friday, October 6 and Saturday, October 7. Key Volunteers must be available to volunteer for the entirety of both days at McCormick Place.
  • Application


    Please note the following important dates:

    • Week of July 24: Launch of the key volunteer application process
    • August: Bank of America Chicago Marathon Volunteer Team will contact new key volunteer applicants
    • Week of August 14: Key volunteer assignments begin and continue on a rolling basis
    • August and September: Key volunteers may be invited to respective area planning meetings
    • Friday, September 15: Key volunteer application deadline
    • Saturday, September 23: Key volunteers are required to attend the Event Production Meeting
    • Friday, October 6 and Saturday, October 7: Abbott Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place
    • Saturday, October 7: Grant Park walk-through and set-up
    • Sunday, October 8: Race day


    • All new applicants will receive a phone call to further discuss their interest in the event, their relevant experience and where their talents can best be utilized race weekend.
    • New applicants will be assigned based on event needs, qualifications, experience and availability.
    • There is always the possibility that key volunteers may be reassigned to a different job as needed by the event.
    • Please note that the number of applicants often exceeds the number of key volunteer roles available. Returning key volunteers will be given priority.


    • In order to gain an understanding of the characteristics and expectations of key volunteers, please review the key volunteer guidelines before applying.
    • Reference the key volunteer roles and responsibilities above to accurately indicate your assignment preference.
    • In order to provide assignments and training before the event, the deadline to apply as a key volunteer is Friday, September 15.

    The key volunteer application has closed for the 2017 event. Questions can be directed to volunteer@chicagomarathon.com.

  • Resources

Thank you for your support!

Bank of America Abbott World Marathon Majors IAAF Gold Label Event
Bank of America Chicago Marathon

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