This weekend the streets of Chicago will be taken over by hundreds of thousands of runners as they compete against each other and themselves. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon weaves its way through 29 neighborhoods this Sunday, October 8.

Whether you know someone running in the race or not, watching these dedicated athletes is invigorating, inspiring, maybe a little intimidating, and just plain ol' fun. The sense of camaraderie is infectious! Here are some tips for watching the Chicago Marathon and making the most out of the experience.

Chicago Marathon

1) If you know a runner, wear something distinctive and bring props to help you stand out. When you tell your athlete what prop you'll be using, be specific: instead of "balloons", get giant fish balloons

2) Map out your route ahead of time, and plot specific points.

3) If you plan on switching locations during the race, figure out if you're going to take a bus, a train, go by foot, etc., and plot what side of the street you'll need to be on so you won't have to cross in front of the runners.

4) Download the Bank of America Chicago Marathon app (Apple store and Google Play) and you'll be able to track your favorite runners, see real time weather, and have a schedule of events at your fingerprints.

5) You're going to be standing in the sun, so bring lots of water. Stores are open but with 1.5 million people there are bound to be lines. Also bring sunblock, an extra phone charger, and snacks. Bandaids are a good idea, too. One year I witnessed someone fall and get a little scraped up, and it would have been nice to hand her a bandaid.

Chicago Marathon Fans

6) Cheer! Shout! Encourage everyone! See a name? Scream it out! Have fun!

7) If you don't already have dinner reservations after the race, make them ASAP! After running a marathon, these people are a little hungry. Tired, maybe, but hungry - definitely. 

The Chicago Marathon is more than just a race. It's thousands and thousands of people challenging themselves physically and mentally in front of a massive audience. You can find more information on the race at chicagomarathon.com.