Undergraduate Program
Client Project Challenge
Bank of America Chicago Marathon Medical Volunteer Allocation Handbook

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which takes place in early October every year, is one of the six World Marathon Majors and hosted 45,000 runners and 1.7 million spectators last year. The Chicago Marathon has become increasingly popular as it is one of the flattest and therefore fastest road races in the world. Marathoners from all over come to set their personal records, and qualify for other marathons at the Chicago Marathon. Due to the Chicago Marathon’s popularity, diversity in runners, and competitive nature, it is important the marathon has a good plan in place for its medical volunteers as injuries are frequent. 

One of the challenges is correctly staffing the event, especially with medical volunteers. Tragedies such as the heat wave in 2007 and the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013 have served as calls to optimize the preparation and allocation of medical staff in order to ensure the safety of those involved with the event. Last year 1,200 people signed up to volunteer at the marathon but approximately 15% of those volunteers did not show up the morning of the event. With 20 aid stations and 2 larger medical tents scattered throughout the course, it is imperative to the success of the event that all of the tents, especially those in high demand areas, are well staffed throughout the marathon, and that the volunteers are allocated both adequately and efficiently.

The following guide will help the organizers of the Chicago Marathon efficiently recruit, assign, check-in, allocate, and track the medical volunteers the weeks leading up to and the morning of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Appendix C provides the methods and analysis that validate our recommendations.

A full report on this project is available by request to

Team: Siddharth Daftary, Taylor Hanken, Kirat Lall, Joseph Sieber, Kyle Spinks
Advisor: Professor Karen Smilowitz