The Chicago Marathon long run on the Lakefront Trail

Chicago Marathon long run

An inconspicuous start for the Lakefront Trail at Ardmore

Conventional marathon training wisdom says that when training for a marathon, a run of around 20 miles should be done about a month before the race. The Chicago Marathon long run obvious choice for me was the 18 mile long Lakefront Trail along Lake Michigan.

I found that the trail starts at Ardmore Avenue in the Rogers Park Neighborhood. The trail has a low profile beginning. There is no huge sign or large parking lot. On Sheridan Road, Ardmore intersects and then immediately ends at the lake. There is a small sign and map for the Lakefront Trail and a sign along the road declaring mile 0 and on the other side mile 18 depending on which way you are heading.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Chicago Lakefront Trail beginning

Chicago Marathon long run

Mile 0 on the Chicago Lakefront Path

The week before, I ran 16 miles in preparation for the even longer 20 mile run.  I did this run on the North Shore Channel Bike Trail farther east starting in Albany Park. Unfortunately, I ran out of trail shortly after the 7 mile mark and then aimlessly ran around Evanston trying to make 8 miles. I thought I would not have this problem on the Lakefront Trail, but events proved otherwise.

North Shore Channel Trail

Running out of trail on the North Shore Channel Trail at Green Bay Road

Not only is the Lakefront Trail a great place to train in Chicago for the marathon, it is a great place to see many of the top tourist spots in Chicago. You pass through Montrose Harbor, Lincoln Park, North Street Beach, Navy Pier, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, Field Museum, and many more. All the while you have great views of the skyline and Lake Michigan.

Chicago Marathon long run

Belmont Harbor

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Great views of the Chicago skyline from the Lakefront Trail

Chicago long run Navy Pier

Chicago skyline from Navy Pier

On my run I also got a glimpse of Chicago’s inept side. As great of a city as Chicago, is it is notorious for not being so well run. It is famous for windbag politicians and corruptness after all. I mean this city is one that leased it parking meters for 75 years to a private company and spent the money in three years. It has also drained raw sewage into the Chicago River for years.

Chicago Marathon long run

Thanks a lot city of Chicago for ruining my long run

With that in mind, it came as no surprise, although a huge annoyance, to have my long run interrupted by the City of Chicago. They had the bridge over the Chicago River closed for over 10-15 minutes while a boat that took about 2-3 minutes to pass through made its way up river while the bridge opened up to let it pass.

Chicago Marathon long run

I am not the only one derailed by the city of Chicago

The twenty mile run is the key point of over 4 months of training, and I was coming close to the 10 mile mark. This was the vital mark of all that training outside the race itself. The Lakefront Trail was full of other runners doing their last tune up for the marathon and were also stuck at the bridge by the City of Chicago Department of Transportation. Why the city would do something like this so close to the race? Let us hope the race itself is not stopped by similar ineptitude. The sign at the beginning of the Lakefront Trail boasts an 18 mile uninterrupted trail. That is unless the City of the Chicago gets in the way.

I ran along the river walk as I could not afford to wait 10-15 minutes for the bridge to open up as I would surely stiffen and risk injury. After about 10 minutes of running around the neighborhood I returned and they finally opened up the gate. For about five minutes the traffic over the bridge was a bottle neck as runners from the other side were also backed up. I guess if you come to Chicago you have to face traffic.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Buckingham Fountain along the Lakefront Trail

I ran to the 8.5 mile mark and then returned. I am pretty sure I ran three miles outside the Lakefront Trail as I took a long detour at Navy Pier earlier in the run. The turnaround point was close to Buckingham Fountain, so I took a few photos of that and the lake and turned around and ran 8.5 miles back to Ardmore.

Chicago Grant Park

Grant Park and part of the Chicago skyline

Lakefront Trail tips:

  • The nice thing about the Lakefront Trail is there are many water fountains and bathrooms along the way
  • There is no parking at the beginning of the trail. I parked on the street on Kenmore
  • Farther south there is a ton of parking where Foster, Lawrence, and Montrose run into the trail
  • The trail does not go out of Navy Pier, but you can run around this if you want to and will add an extra mile to the trail, which will not show up on the mile markers
  • Bring a hat as there are a few stretches out in the open with no protection
  • The trail is awesome for biking too
  • There are blue rental bikes available in Grant Park and there is a biking shop along the trail
  • Kayak Chicago has kayak rentals at Montrose Harbor and North Beach if looking for a different adventure

Adventure on!

The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then sign up for the email newsletter. Notifications are sent out once or twice a month with what is new with Traveling Ted’s adventures. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

About Traveling Ted

Ted Nelson has been adventure traveling since he was 10 years old on camping trips with his Dad to places like the Great Smoky Mountains, The Everglades, and Big Bend National Park. In 2005 he added international travel to his repertoire with a three month trip to Southeast Asia.

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18 Responses to The Chicago Marathon long run on the Lakefront Trail

  1. Trips By Lance September 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    Looks like a solid run. I’ll keep this trail in mind for future trips to Chicago. I want to start running and/or cycling more in cities when we travel. I don’t do it enough and it’s one of the best ways to see a city. Glad you sound like you’re coming into the home stretch ready for the race.
    Trips By Lance recently posted..Ready to Explore Albuquerque Culture

    • Ted Nelson September 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      Two more weeks. Can’t wait to get it over with. The Lakefront path is an outstanding way to see Chicago whether you run, bike, or just walk.

  2. Kieu Nguyen September 26, 2013 at 5:26 am #

    Ugh.. how annoying is that bridge?! Ruined it for everyone. But it looks like you had a great run nonetheless.. 4 months of training – wow! Congrats on a great run, Ted!
    Kieu Nguyen recently posted..Savory Eats in Sucre

    • Ted Nelson September 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      Thanks Kieu,

      That bridge closing was quite annoying.

  3. Michael September 26, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Quite unfortunate about the bridge. Great content!
    Michael recently posted..A Papuan Feast: The bakar batu

  4. @mrsoaroundworld September 26, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Sorry to hear about the bridge. But seems that the run was good!!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My hOtel: One Aldwych, London @onealdwych

  5. Raul (@ilivetotravel) September 26, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Chicago has to be one of the best towns for a long run with the nice weather and relative flatness. By the way, the City of Chicago cannot be more inept and corrupt than the City of Atlanta!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Buenos Aires: A Monument-al City

    • Ted Nelson September 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      I don’t know about Atlanta politics, but it would be hard to beat Chicago in corruptness. It was one area we are not the second city: that and murders.

  6. Leah September 28, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    Forget the trail, I’m just proud of you for making a marathon your goal. That’s just wonderful and something I wouldn’t have the discipline to do myself.
    Leah recently posted..Absolutely Annoying Airport Lounge Behavior

    • Ted Nelson September 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks Leah. I have made it through the training, now I just have to finish the race.

  7. Fiona September 28, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Always a plus when you’ve got beautiful surroundings to look at on a run
    Fiona recently posted..Amsterdam’s Hottest Tickets this Autumn

    • Ted Nelson September 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      It sure makes a difference to have something interesting to take your mind off the monotony.

  8. Pola (@jettingaround) September 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    It looks like you had a beautiful day and some fantastic views on your run! Good luck with the marathon. I’ll chill on the couch…
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Krakow’s Main Square in the afternoon

    • Ted Nelson September 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      I will run better knowing you are chilling on the couch.

  9. Erin at The World Wanderer September 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    First off, I am so impressed with all of your training. I can barely run a mile – honestly. This is also why I love Flat Tedward so much…we’re on the same speed and even shared Wendy’s while waiting for the train. 😉

    Either way, this is a beautiful run, which probably helps keep you going! When I visit Chicago again, I’ll be sure to check it out.
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..My Montréal Foodie Experiences.

  10. lola dimarco September 30, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Looks like a beautiful day to run an ungodly amount of miles! Too bad about the bridge, but some of the views are gorgeous!
    lola dimarco recently posted..5 Best Ways to get a Hotel Room Upgrade

  11. the lazy travelers September 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    psh don’t these bridge bitches know that you have a marathon to train for??? rude. at least it looks like perfect weather!

    and we trust there was a beer reward involved in the cool down.
    the lazy travelers recently posted..london, baby! (+ another travel announcement!)

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