In just a few days, I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon with 45,000 of my BFFs. It’s my second time running the legendary race, and I can’t wait to share the experience with a close friend of mine that I’ve been training through the Saucony 26Strong program.

When I heard that we’d be running Chicago, I was psyched to go back to where I started my marathon career five years and five marathons ago.

Here are five reasons why the Chicago Marathon is awesome:

It’s Flat!

Tell anyone who knows anything about running that you’re racing Chicago, and you’ll hear “It’s so flat!” on repeat. And they’re right, it is. If hill repeats are your personal version of hell, well, you picked the right race. This course is known as fast and flat for a reason! The only minor inclines happen as you run on bridges across the Chicago River—you’ll cross the river five times—and a slight incline at the end.

Crowd Support

If you’re the kind of person who thrives on the roar of the crowd (I am!), you will love Chicago. The crowds at this race are off the charts, and, with miles of smiles, your face might hurt just as much as your legs by the time you’re done.

It’s a World Marathon Major

While you’re going out to dominate your own race, some of the world’s best runners will be out there on the same course. Where else, other than at a major marathon, do you compete at the same time, on the same course as the world’s best? The World Marathon Majors takes seven of the most high-profile marathons in the world (including Chicago) and offers huge prize money, so the Chicago Marathon always attracts some of the world’s best.

Race-cation, Anyone?

As a cynical New Yorker, I don’t love just any other city. But Chicago counts as a good city. It has enough character and attractions to appeal to both other city-dwellers and those generally overwhelmed by big cities. And really, how scary will running 26.2 miles be after you’ve gone up to the 108th story of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower? If you’re looking for a great way to see the city after the marathon, an architecture boat cruise is the way to go — it’s a great way to see the city without having to move your sore quads.

RELATED: 5 Places to Run In…Chicago

Deep Dish Pizza

Perhaps better saved for a post-race treat, than pre-race carb loading, the chewy crust and generous toppings on this Chicago standard will definitely top off your glycogen stores!