Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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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).