Chicago Marathon
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Bank of America Chicago Marathon

We wanted to go running all winter long. Then came those repeat polar vortexes and three-foot-high sludge banks. (Who was that one runner still on the lakefront path at -17 degrees?)

But now that the thaw is finally upon us, we?re getting back to business--namely, signing up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which opens registration this Wednesday using a lottery system for the first time ever.

In other words, instead of having to log on to the website to compete for a bib with 40,000 people at the same moment, you can now enter here anytime between March 5 and April 7. The scary part? On April 14, the lucky runners will be notified via email--and you may or may not be one of them. (Fast runners, charity runners and a few others get a guaranteed spot.)

Either way, do these short, fun runs to get back in the groove:

Shamrock Shuffle (March 30) With 40,000 runners, this 8K race draws huge crowds to Grant Park, thanks to a boozy post-race party. ($45)

Lakefront 10-Miler (April 19) The name says it all: ten serene miles of your favorite stretch of Chicago pavement. ($50)

Ravenswood Run (April 27) This 5K follows an unusual route through picturesque Ravenswood and Lincoln Square. ($10)

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