Last year when I registered for the Chicago Marathon I had the option to sign up for the Skyline hospitality tent.
The hospitality tent was said to be a private area before and after the race with heated tents, private gear check, food, and more. That sounds great to me!
So I decided to buy two tickets for the tent for myself and my husband who was spectating the race. Last week I ran the Chicago Marathon and will share with you my review and everything you need to know about the hospitality tent and if it's worth buying a ticket to.
The Chicago Marathon Skyline Hospitality Tent is an add on that you can buy when you register for the Chicago Marathon.
When I found out I was selected for the Chicago Marathon through the lottery process I was so excited! I immediately purchased two tickets to the hospitality tent.
After running TC Marathon the past few years I knew that the start line of a fall marathon in the midwest can be hit or miss - some years it can be hot and some years it can be freezing.
I love the VIP tent at TC Marathon and always think that's worth buying (no lines to the porta potties? Yes please!) so for this being my first major marathon I knew I had to get tickets to this.
The tent was advertised as being near the start and finish line and included:
Private Gear Check
Escort to Corrals
Pre-race talks with race director and other guests
Post race lunch and drinks
Access to the bleachers at the finish line
and possibly appearances by the race winners (depending on timing).
Each ticket cost about $170 and gave you access to both the pre-race amenities as well as the post race.
Picking Up Tickets
Leading up to race day, we started to hear some communication about picking up our hospitality tent tickets.
The e-mails said that we would have to bring an ID as well as copy of the e-mail to the expo to get our gear.
When I went to the expo for packet pickup, it was very well labeled on where to pick up hospitality tickets. The booth was right after security and before bib pickup.
Picking up my hospitality tent info was a breeze. I was given an envelope with my two tickets and information about the day and what to expect inside the tent.
Once I had that, I went to do packet pickup and received my bib. On my bib they had marked it with a green sticker that indicated that I could get into the tent.
Race Day Experience
On race morning, instead of going to my assigned gate based on my corral, I went right to the Skyline tent.
It was pretty easy to follow and find the gate. There was security right outside the gate and it took maybe 5 minutes to get through.
Once we were through, we had our tickets checked and were given wristbands and welcomed into the tent.
My friend Sara and I had arrived around 6 and the tent was already busy. Almost all the seats were taken at the tables. But despite that, the tent didn't feel too busy.
There was a catered breakast with basics like muffins, bagels, breakfast sandwiches as well as tables with full bottles of water, gatorade and coffee station.
There was also tables to the side with what they called "runner essentials" that had extra band aids, vasoline, biofreeze, and other things you might need.
On the outside of the tent was a whole line of porta potties as well as a few special changing room only ones.
The tent was so nice inside because it was heated! The morning was a little chilly so I really appreciated being able to hang out in the heated area.
Before the race the race director Carey Pinkowski came to the stage and welcomed us and brought along some former winners and record holders to give us tips on the course.
I was most excited to see Deena Kastor there! I've been a huge fan of Deena and love her book Let Your Mind Run.
She gave us a lot of good tips, including "follow the blue line" on the course - this is a blue line that shows the most efficient way to run the entire marathon.
We got to take a few photos after they talked and then quickly afterwards it was time to head to our corrals!
When it got a little closer to the race, I dropped my gear bag. Gear check was really easy to do and there wasn't any wait.
They had labels based on our bib number and so you lined up according to that and dropped the bag. This gear area was only for people who had hospitality tent tickets so it was a lot smaller and easier than the main gear check.
Based on the wave you're in you'll be escorted to the corrals at different times. I was in Wave 2 so was escorted in the second group, about 20 minutes before I was set to start.
The escorts are well marked with big balloon signs so it was easy to follow. I was able to keep up with them until we got to the corral area, and then it was tough to follow.
Thankfully the corrals were easily marked so I was able to find my way. It was a little crowded so took a few minutes to get into my corral but I found I had enough time and was able to hang out in the corral for a few minutes.
Post Race Experience
After the race it was a little tricky to find the Skyline Hospitality Tent.
I finished the race and started looking, but couldn't find it. I walked through the finish line area and got my medal and then probably about ¼ mile from the finish line there was a sign for the tent.
I'll be honest- this walk was brutal. I think the most frustrating part is that you had to walk through everything at the finish line, get to the entrance for the tent, then turn back around and basically walk back to the finish line to get to the tent.
I wish they had a shortcut to the tent a little closer to the finish line because that walk after running a marathon was brutal!
However I eventually made it and got back to the tent.
The tent was amazing post race.
It wasn't too busy, and I was able to easily get my gear bag and find a place to sit. I did bring clothes to change, shower wipes, and a battery pack for my phone so I could hang out for a bit.
After sitting for a little while, I made my way out to change and then came back inside to grab something to eat.
For lunch, they had an asssortment of sandwiches, chips, pastries, salads and pasta salads.
IT WAS AMAZING!
I got a sandwich, chips, pasta salad and a rice krispie treat and I felt amazing after. They also had the same drink stations with water and gatorade, as well as some granola bars.
While I was eating lunch I noticed a huge crowd starting to gather. I found out that the winners of the race Kelvin Kiptum and Sifan Hassan were making an appearance!
I was going to attempt to get closer, but my legs just weren't feeling it so I got to listen to their speeches from my table. Even though I couldn't see because of the crowd around, it was still really cool to hear!
After I had lunch I went to find where I could get a massage. I don't normally do the massages after a race, but figured why not? I had time and was flying out the next afternoon so anything that could help my legs would be appreciated!
The massage area was HUGE! There was a whole tent next to ours with rows and rows of massage tables.
The best part was there was hardly any wait. I was able to check in, fill out a form on what I wanted massaged, and then wait for the next person. It took about 5 minutes all together.
The massage was awesome. I was able to get a 15 minute total body massage and almost instantly I felt so much better after.
I hung around for a few more minutes in the tent after, then decided I wanted to try to get a Tracksmith Majors finisher sweatshirt (spoiler: they were sold out so I didn't).
Is the Skyline Hospitality Tent Worth It?
Overall I would say the Chicago Marathon Skyline Hospitality Tent is absolutely worth it. This is a really busy race, and it was nice to be able to have a smaller area to hang out in before and after the race.
I also really appreciated having food after the race without having to wait in any lines.
After I had left the tent I realized how busy it was in that area of town and I would've been waiting for a while if I had tried to get food at a restaurant without a reservation.
So for the heated tent, private gear check, porta potties, massage and lunch it was compltely worth it to me.
I've entered the lottery again for next year's race and if I get in I do plan to do the tent again!
Skyline Hospitality Tent Tips and Tricks
After going to the hospitality tent this year there are a few things I wish I would've known
Get a Beer at the Finish Line
One of the things that the Chicago Marathon is known for is the special beer at the finish line that is specially brewed for the race.
I thought the hospitality tent was going to have the beer also in the tent, but they ended up not having it so I was a little bummed to not be able to get one. Next year I'll plan to grab one on the finish line walk.
The Hospitality Tent tickets sold out a few months after the lottery, and the months heading into the race people were scrambling to find tickets. If you think you're going to want to do this, make sure you buy your ticket early.
Bring a Change of Clothes
I was so happy I brought a change of clothes and body wipes after the race. I was able to change and was so much more comfortable post race and able to hang out in the area longer.
I also would recommend bringing a portable charger. I didn't see any in the tent, and after the race my phone was almost dead.