Chicago Marathon: The Insider’s Guide with Carey Pinkowski

Carey Pinkowski – Executive Director Chicago Marathon

In 2019 the Chicago Marathon will be held on Sunday, October 13 and in this episode, we are privileged to have Carey Pinkowski, Executive Director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon talking to us direct from Chicago. 

Carey shares some of the “inside stuff” to help race participants, as well as spectators, understand and enjoy how the race comes together; how to qualify, how to deal with race logistics, where it starts, where it finishes, where to stay, course details, best things to do in the city, etc.

Photo courtesy Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Since 1990, Carey has served as Executive Director and has seen the race grow from 6,000 runners in 1990 to 44,341 finishers in 2017, including runners from all 50 states and more than 130 countries. 

In addition to being an exciting race to participate in with a big purse for top athletes, the Chicago Marathon charity program has raised more than $167,000,000 for local, national, and global causes since 2002.

Join us for a great discussion as we learn what makes The Chicago Marathon a special member of the World Marathon Series, and what makes the city that hosts it so special itself.


Questions Carey is asked:

3:43 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite workout? 

6:38 What is the history of the Chicago Marathon?

7:48 How do runners get in to the Chicago Marathon?

8:36 Is there a qualifying time?

8:54 What’s the registration deadline?

9:14 Is there a lottery component?

9:53 How can people get involved with, or run the race through, charities?

10:41 Is there a limited number of charity race entries?

11:28 Are there certain numbers of entries allowed as training runners?

11:53 How do you select the elite field?

13:33 What is the course like?

14:52 Are there a lot of fans cheering the runners?

15:40 In 2013, Dennis Kimetto set the course record for men at 2:03:45, and in 2002, Paula Radcliffe  set the women’s record with 2:17:18; will these records be broken this year, and if so, who will break them?

18:50 Who are the top American contenders?

19:48 How are all the starts coordinated and when is the start?

22:16 How do you manage security?

24:13 What can people look forward to during the entire weekend of events?

27:08 What are some of your favorites stories over the 30 years you’ve been involved?

30:17 What other marathons are involved with the World Marathon Major Series and how can runners get involved?

32:03 What races are included in the Majors?

33:25 How long has the Series been around?

34:12 What’s the time frame for getting a medal for completing the Series?

35:03 Have you only run one marathon yourself back in 1983?

36:07 How do you feel about your finishing time of 2:20:43?

36:32 What are some tips do you have for folks to maximize their experience?

38:10 How does running a marathon help people learn about a new place?

38:59 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run or outing (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite book(s), video or resource? 
  3. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?

43:22 What about the wheelchair division race?

45:29 Who are some of the contenders in that field?



“The Chicago Marathon is really known for the fact that we have a lot of first-time marathon runners. And so it’s a great entry into the sport.”

“People come out to watch (the marathon), but also people come from the neighboring states to watch friends and family members on race day, so there’s a great deal of people who come to Chicago and watch the event, but also discover some amazing neighborhoods and and get to meet some great people.”

“Chicago Marathon Sunday is a special day: It’s like no other day, but it’s like every other day.”

“There’s a great deal of celebration; there’s also heartbreak there. Some of the athletes that I’ve been able to meet over the years that are still part of the event and the ambassadors, if you think about the 4 world records and the individuals that performed in those events, that’s special.”

“As much as we have developed and as much as we brought to the event over the years, it’s still about an individual taking that first step in training, it’s one foot in front of the other, it’s preparing for a 26.2 mile run that’s remained the same. And I think there’s something so genuine about that.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run


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Mentioned in this podcast: 

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

Chicago Marathon Homepage

Mo Farah

Jordan Hasay

Dennis Kimetto

Paula Radcliffe

Lawrence Cherono Wins the 2019 Boston Marathon

Dickson Chumba

Kenneth Kipkimoi

Brigid Kosgei

Galen Rupp

Tatyana McFadden

Daniel Romanchuk

Amanda McGrory

Manuela Schar

Lakefront Chicago running path

Book: The Chicago Marathon by Andrew Suozzo

Book: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor

Randy Burt who has run every Chicago Marathon


Follow Carey on:

Chicago Event Management


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