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Chicago Marathon
Start training now and this could be you.
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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