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Amateur Radio Supports 2023 Chicago Marathon


On October 8, 2023, more than 140 amateur radio operators from five Midwest states assisted 2,000 volunteer medical personnel at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. This is the 15th consecutive year that amateur radio operators have helped coordinate medical responses and arrange for medical resupplies. About 49,000 runners entered this year’s event.



The city-wide marathon uses six main repeater channels and deploys four temporary repeaters. New this year was official use of the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) after organizers trialed the system at their other events, including the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago 13.1. APRS radios were deployed to amateur communication teams in Chicago’s Grant Park after the race was finished.


A total of 30 radio operators worked in various capacities before and after the race. Also, there were 100 ham radio operators stationed at each of the 20 course medical tents and the medical hub. In Forward Command, 10 amateur radio operators served as net controls, traffic handlers, logging specialists, and expediters.


Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications has been nationally recognized for its ability to fully integrate all the available resources, and amateur radio operators have been publicly recognized by Federal Emergency Management Agency observers for their performance during the event.


President of Ham Radio Chicago and former president of the North Shore Radio Club Rob Orr, K9RST, President of the North Shore Radio Club said that amateur radio has an important seat at the communications table. “Amateur radio is important to the event. However, it is just one small component [of] a very complex event that requires more than 10,000 volunteers to be successful. Amateur radio has a unique role and works alongside the other many specialty service groups required to support an event of this magnitude,” he said. “This event has shown that amateur radio is very much alive and doing well.”




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