Get the Chicago Marathon Experience Without Running the Chicago Marathon

The running part of the Chicago Marathon started at 7:30 AM on Sunday, October 13th. However, I wasn’t at the start linphoto 1e. Yet, just like the runners, I’d been preparing for weeks and days leading up to the race. Because races don’t happen on their own. Nope. The Chicago Marathon needs plenty of staff and volunteers to get those 40,000 runners to the start line, along the course, and across the finish line.

Marathon weekend starts with the Expo which is actually open to the public. Everyone will tell you to get there early. Although, when I arrived at 8:45 AM on Saturday to start my shift at the CEP Compression booth, there were already 5 lines at least 100 people deep to get into the Expo.

As my friend Bethany said:




And once my shift started at CEPĀ  we were non-stop busy until mid-afternoon! Which left me just enough time to grab a photo with the Soldier Filed 10 Miler Bear. My feet hurt just as much as if I had run 26.2 miles but thankfully my calves and shins were fine thanks to my CEP Compression socks! A great perk of working a compression socks booth.


By the way, if you need your calves measured, I am now a pro. Do you think I can put that on my resume?

I’d never worked retail before but I have to say that selling compression socks at the Chicago Marathon expo is a great start. I mean, I got to talk to runners all day! Love it!

Then on Sunday I was up at 5:00 AM to volunteer as a Side Coordinator at the Mile 18 Aid Station. I wrote a more detailed post about volunteering last year and this year not much changed. Perhaps more police motorcades and slightly sorer feet on my end but overall everything went smoothly. In fact, my running club who organizes this aid station joked that we had a PR in clean-up! So, thanks to the almost 200 people who volunteered with us on Sunday morning.

IMG_1291 IMGP5609

And let me tell you: I’ve run four marathons in the past 3 years yet I’ve never been as exhausted as I was after two days of non-stop Chicago Marathon immersion. I slept for 14 hours on Sunday night but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Two days surrounded by people running the Chicago Marathon, supporting those who are running, and being part of making people’s dreams come true is worth the exhaustion.

Want more behind-the-scenes action? And don’t forget to like Eri-thon on Facebook so you don’t miss out!


Aid station photos courtesy of Steve Bogolub

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    Erin Vandenberg

    I'm a 30-something who decided to get off the elliptical and expand my fitness horizons. Since moving to Chicago in 2008 I've run marathons and biked miles. I've done group fitness classes and lifted weights on my own. And now I want to share my fitness finds with you!

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