Spring and Fall Ultra Marathons on Chicago's Lakefront

Chicago Lakefront 50K George Cheung Memorial Race - Information

NOTICE:  Due to revisions imposed by the Chicago Park District, our course and start time have both changed.

Location and Directions
The race starts at Grove 19A, near the 63rd Street Beach House in Jackson Park, located on the south side of Chicago, along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. 63rd Street Beach is located just South of the Museum of Science and Industry, off Lake Shore Drive. Directions and parking options are presented below.

Packet Pickup, Race Day Registration and Reminders

  • Race packets will be available on Friday, April 8, 12pm - 6pm, at REI, 1466 N. Halsted St. Chicago Illinois 60642.
    • Go to the Community Room on the second floor. 312-951-6020.
    • Validated parking in lot for 90 minutes. If you fail to check out before 90 minutes - you will pay "full fare" (i.e.; as if not validated). So, watch the clock. It's $12 bucks for the first two hours.
    • Paybox parking ($3.50 per hour) is also available. There are also a limited number of free spaces around the block (but few and hard to come by...)
  • On race day packet pickup will begin at 6:30 a.m.
  • Registration and packet pickup will be available on Friday and race day.
  • All runners must visibly display their bib number in front for scorekeeping purposes.
  • Please cross the Finish Line only once. Running through the Finish Line chute multiple times confuses the Finish Line crew and timers.

Directions to the Start/Finish
Take Lake Shore Drive to Hayes Drive (63rd St.) There is a traffic signal at Hayes Drive. If you are coming from the north, turn right at the traffic signal. If you are coming from the south, turn left at the traffic signal, onto Hayes Drive. Grove 19A will be on your right-hand side. At the first driveway on your right, turn right, into the Parking Lot. If the lot happens to be full (which is unlikely), there is more parking on the south side of Hayes Drive.

There will be ample parking for the race but it is no longer free.

Here is a link to information about the pay stations. You can pay with coins, bills or credit cards for up to 24 hours at a time.  A receipt will be printed and you put it on the driver's side dashboard. 

We suggest car pooling, bikes and cabs.

A map of the start/finish and parking area is available here.

Chicago Parks / Safety Issues
The Chicago Lakefront 50K will weave through a long, narrow strip of parkland known as Jackson Park and Burnham Park. The entire shoreline of Chicago is a multi-use park, shared by runners, bikers, bladers, boaters, golfers, fishermen, museum goers, dog walkers and every other form of leisure, pedestrian traffic (although all these activities are relatively subdued in late October/November).

The park is closed between 11:00 pm and sunrise, during which the parking lots are gated.

On the race day, as every day, the park will be open to the public. Please be aware of this and use common sense and caution when negotiating the various paths throughout the park. The general public will probably be unaware that a race is in progress since we are small in number compared to larger 5K and 10K running races in Chicagoland. Park patrons are generally friendly and cheerful and you can expect them to yield the path if they see you coming. Please run defensively and give a wide berth or verbal warning when passing from behind.

Course Markings and Maps
The course will have ground markings (chalked directional arrows) to guide you through turns. Between the starting/finish area and the far north turn-around area, course marshals on bikes will randomly monitor the race and assist runners if necessary.

  • To view a map of the 50K course, click here.
  • Download course maps / certifications here:  50k

Aid Stations

  • Start/Finish/Turnaround aid station - Grove 19A, near the 63rd Street Beach House area.
  • “Middle” Aid Station – adjacent to the Oakwood Blvd./39th Street Parking Lot.
  • North (50K Turnaround) Aid Station – at the 50K turnaround, north of 31st St. Beach.

Aid stations will have water, Gatorade, Coke, cookies, pretzels, potato chips, variety of candy, fruits, first aid supplies and other surprises.

Who was George Cheung?
Find out here

Attention:  First-time Ultramarathoners

  • Ultramarathon courses, especially those using a multiple out-and-back route, DO NOT have splits at each and every mile.
  • We will have splits at the middle aid station, and at the turnaround points, at each end of the course. (See distances, above)
  • You will be able to obtain accurate 1-mile splits by using the Park District Running Path mileage markers, which are located every 1/2 mile on the course.  Those markers do not coincide with any mile markers in our race. However, they can serve as guides for accurate pacing

Course Markings
The course itself will be marked with orange spray paint especially near forks-in-the-path, merging paths, turns near underpasses and at the turnaround points.  Look for the sample at the start as to how the markings will look.

Drop Bags
There will be a tarp near the Start/Finish area to leave drop bags.  These bags will remain there throughout the race. We can not be responsible for lost items, so please do not include anything of value. Unclaimed items will be donated to charity.

Time Limits and Cutoffs
There will be a 7-hour time limit for the race.  Please notify an aid station volunteer or race official if you intend to drop out of the race.  Volunteers may be able to assist you with transportation back to the Start/Finish area if needed.  You should plan on reaching the last turnaround point at around 5.5 hours to make the 7 hour time limit.

Early Start Option

  • Early start option is available for interested runners up to one hour prior to the official start
  • Runners who choose this option must report to Pat Onines before you start.  He will add you to the Early Start List and mark the bottom of your bib with an ES.
  • After the sign-up, runners can start anytime they want
  •  Important Warnings
    • Early starters are responsible for their own time-keeping, safety (since marking of the course may not be complete), and aid (since aid stations may not be fully set up).
    • Early starters will receive a finisher's medal if they finish the event within 7 hours of the official start
    • Early starters will not receive an official finish time but will receive a “Finished” in the results.

Age Group Divisions
There will be seven age groups: under 30;  30-39;  40-49;  50-59;  60-69;  70-79; 80 and over.  Only the first overall winners receive a trophy.

Springtime forecasting in Chicago is guesswork at best.  We could have temperatures in the ’20s at the starting line or temps in the ’70s by noon.  More than likely, you can expect a bit of everything in-between. Anticipate a variety of temperature fluctuations, along with the chance of rain, snow or sleet. Bring a couple changes of running gear and plenty of warm, dry clothing for after the race.  Hopefully, we will have a typical springtime day of 35-55 degrees.  Sunshine optional.

Spectator Locations
The best spectator viewing areas are located near the Aid Stations and the turnaround points on the course. Late arriving spectators should be forewarned that there may be limited parking at the Start/Finish area. However, there should be ample parking at the Chicago Park District Parking Lots north of 31st Street, and at Oakwood Blvd/39th Street. Normal Chicago Park District parking rates will apply.

Promontory Point, near 55th Street is another picturesque location on the course. A pedestrian underpass beneath the Lake Shore Drive provides access to the Promontory Point from the Hyde Park area.

50k Awards and T-shirts

  • Trophies to overall top finishers, both male and female. Winners receive their trophies as they finish
  • An attractive medal to all 50k finishers
  • T-shirts to all paid participants

Times will be posted at the finish line area, during and after the race.  Official results will be available on our website and Chicago Athlete.  Results will be submitted to Ultrarunning Magazine.