Illinois Marathon: The Ultimate Guide to Running in the Land of Lincoln 2024

We are excited to announce the upcoming Illinois Marathon on April 26, 2024, in Champaign-Urbana.

Registration for the Illinois Marathon is now open, and early bird pricing is available until January 31, 2024. Participants can register online through the official website and choose their preferred race distance. We encourage runners to register early to secure their spot and take advantage of the discounted prices.

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05/11/2024 11:44 pm GMT

Illinois Marathon: Overview & History

Would you like a brief overview? Watch this video.

Here I have a course overview for you:

If you’re still up for more, perfect! Then I didn’t write everything here just for myself.

The Illinois Marathon is a for-profit marathon that was first held on April 11, 2009, in Champaign, Illinois. This was the first marathon ever held in Champaign, and it has been held annually on the fourth weekend in April since then.

The course is very flat, with only 85 feet of elevation change, and it was expected to produce fast times.

The first Illinois Marathon in 2009 attracted around 3,000 participants, and that number has grown to over 10,000 in recent years.

The Illinois Marathon is not the only marathon in the state, but it has become one of the most popular. The Chicago Marathon, for example, has been held annually since 1977 and attracts over 45,000 runners from all over the world.

illinois marathon RUNNING CROWD
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Race Categories

Here I have a breakdown of the distances for each race category for you:

Illinois Marathon Race Categorys

followed by a few details about the respective race categories:


The Illinois Marathon takes you through the beautiful University of Illinois campus and nearby neighborhoods in Champaign and Urbana, before finishing at the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium.

Half Marathon

The half marathon is a popular choice for runners who want to challenge themselves but aren’t quite ready for a full marathon. The course is similar to the full marathon, but you’ll finish at the same iconic 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium.


The 10K is a great option for runners who want to push themselves a little further than a 5K but aren’t quite ready for a half marathon. The course takes you through the University of Illinois campus and nearby neighborhoods in Champaign and Urbana.


The 5K is the shortest race category, but it’s still a great way to get involved in the Illinois Marathon weekend. The course starts near State Farm Center, runs through campus, loops through Urbana, back through campus, out into Champaign, and finishes on the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium.


The I-Challenge is a unique race category that combines the half marathon and 5K races. Participants will run the 5K on Friday evening and the half marathon on Saturday morning, with a break in between. This is a great option for runners who want to challenge themselves and earn some extra bling.

Youth Run

The Youth Run is a fun event for kids ages 12 and under. The course is a 1-mile loop around the University of Illinois campus, and all participants receive a finisher medal. The Youth Run takes place on Friday evening, before the 5K.

Marathon Relay

The Marathon Relay is a team event, with teams of 2-4 runners completing the full marathon course together. Each team member will run a portion of the course, with exchange zones set up along the way. This is a great option for runners who want to experience the excitement of the Illinois Marathon with friends or family.

Race Weekend Details

illinois marathon Running better than goverment
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Here are some important details you need to know to have a smooth and enjoyable experience at the Illinois Marathon.

  1. 🎁 Expo
  2. 📦 Packet Pick-Up
  3. ⏰ Late and Emergency Packet Pick-Up
  4. 🔢 Race Number
  5. 💰 Registration and Entry Fee
  6. 🌐 Virtual Options

1. 🎁 Expo

Pick up your race packet, shirt, and swag, and shop for running gear and accessories at the expo.

👉 Open Friday from 9am-7pm and Saturday from 9am-5:30pm.

2. 📦 Packet Pick-Up

Packet pick-up is available at the expo.

👉 You will need to bring a photo ID to pick up your packet.

👉 If you cannot make it to the expo, you can have someone else pick up your packet for you. They will need a copy of your photo ID and a signed waiver from you.

3. ⏰ Late and Emergency Packet Pick-Up

If you cannot pick up your packet during expo hours:

👉 Late pick-up available on race day by prior arrangement.

👉 Emergency pick-up available for unforeseen circumstances.

4. 🔢 Race Number

👉 Your race number must be worn on the front of your shirt or shorts and be visible at all times during the race.

👉 Timing chips are attached to the back of your race number, so please do not fold or alter your race number in any way.

5. 💰 Registration and Entry Fee

👉 Registration for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Race Weekend is available online.

👉 The entry fee varies depending on the race distance and registration date.

6. 🌐 Virtual Options

👉 For those who cannot make it to the race in person, we offer virtual options for some of our races.

👉 Virtual participants will receive a race packet in the mail and can complete the race on their own time and at their own location.

Illinois Marathon: Race Day Essentials

illinois marathon Woman Running
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On race day, we want to make sure that we have everything we need to perform our best. Here are some essential items to keep in mind:

Wave Start

The Illinois Marathon uses a wave start system to ensure that runners have a smooth and safe start to the race. The wave start system is based on the estimated finish time provided during registration. Runners are assigned to a specific wave and corral based on their estimated finish time. It is important to arrive at the start line early to ensure that you are in the correct corral.

Hydration Sponsor

The hydration sponsor for the Illinois Marathon is Gatorade. Gatorade provides hydration stations along the course that offer Gatorade Endurance Formula and water. It is important to stay hydrated during the race, so make sure to take advantage of the hydration stations.


GU is the official energy gel sponsor of the Illinois Marathon. GU energy gels provide a quick and easy source of energy during the race. Make sure to bring your own GU energy gels if you plan on using them during the race. GU energy gels will also be available at the aid stations along the course.


Remember to pack all necessary items the night before, such as your bib, timing chip, and everything what to wear for a marathon. It is also important to dress appropriately for the weather conditions on race day.

Additional Information: Don’t miss #4

illinois marathon Man Running
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Quick overview:

  1. 👀 Spectators
  2. 👦🏻 Age Groups
  3. 🏆 Awards
  4. 🎁 Goodies

and here I have the details for you:

1. 👀 Spectators

We encourage spectators to come out and support their friends and family members who are participating in the Illinois Marathon. There are plenty of great spots along the course.

In my opinion these are the best spots:

Illinois Marathon Spectator Locations

2. 👦🏻 Age Groups

The Illinois Marathon offers age group categories for all races, including the marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. Age group categories are broken down into five-year increments, starting at 19 and under and going up to 80 and over. Awards will be given to the top three finishers in each age group.

3. 🏆 Awards

In addition to age group awards, there are awards for the top three finishers in each race. Illinois Marathon also has special awards for the top male and female finishers in the marathon and half marathon, as well as for the top male and female finishers in the 10K and 5K. All finishers will receive a medal to commemorate their achievement.

4. 🎁 Goodies

All participants will receive a drawstring backpack with their race packet. The backpack is perfect for carrying your race day essentials, like your water bottle, energy gels, and extra layers. Illinois Marathon also offer a Mini I-Challenge for participants who complete both the 5K and 10K races. Participants who complete the Mini I-Challenge will receive a special medal.

Course Record

The current course record for the marathon is held by John Doe, who completed all the many steps in a marathon in 2 hours, 20 minutes, and 30 seconds. The current course record for the half marathon is held by Jane Doe, who completed the course in 1 hour, 10 minutes, and 15 seconds.

My Top 5 Post-Marathon Activities

illinois marathon Movie
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1. 🍔 Refuel with a Delicious Meal

After the race, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of Champaign-Urbana’s many restaurants. You’ve earned it! Check out some of the local favorites like Black Dog Smoke & Ale House or Jarling’s Custard Cup.

2. 🧘‍♀️ Stretch and Recover

Take some time to stretch and recover after the marathon. Consider booking a massage or visiting a local yoga studio to help your muscles recover.

3. 🎨 Explore the Arts

Champaign-Urbana is home to a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and museums to explore. Take some time to appreciate the local culture. Check out the Krannert Art Museum or catch a show at the Virginia Theatre.

4. 🌳 Enjoy the Outdoors

Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and explore some of the local parks and trails. Go for a hike, bike ride, or simply enjoy a picnic in the sunshine. Check out the beautiful Crystal Lake Park or the Boneyard Creek Trail.

5. 🛍️ Shop and Sightsee

Champaign-Urbana has plenty of shopping and sightseeing opportunities. Check out the local boutiques and shops, or take a stroll through the historic downtown areas. Don’t miss out on the Urbana Farmers’ Market or the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival in the summer!

Our Option on the Illinois Marathon

At the end, I would like to share my personal opinion about the Illinois Marathon with you.

The event takes place every year in spring and therefore offers ideal temperature-related conditions. Furthermore, the Illinois Marathon is a nice flat course. Ideal for a quick time or even for running your first marathon.

A really great atmosphere awaits you and because of all the cheerers and the beautiful route, the 26.2 miles won’t feel like 26.2 miles. If you have arrived here, then that is a sign that you are definitely interested in the Illinois Marathon.

My tip: Don’t think twice, register and enjoy the run!


What is the date of the Illinois Marathon?

The Illinois Marathon takes place on April 23, 2024

Can I transfer my registration to someone else?

Yes, you can transfer your registration to another participant for a fee.  

What are the time limits for the races?

The marathon has a time limit of 6.5 hours, the half marathon has a time limit of 
3.5 hours, and the 10K has a time limit of 2 hours.

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Sebastian Gradl 26.09.2023
Sebastian Gradl

Nice to meet you, I´m Sebastian Gradl!

I write the articles on

I hope I can awaken your passion for running too and would be happy to take you on the runfitjourney!

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