The Detroit Free Press Marathon returns. Here’s where to eat, watch and much more!

October 12, 2021 | Story by Max White | Photos by Detroit Free Press Marathon

The Detroit Free Press Marathon is returning to the streets of Detroit this weekend, October 16-17, 2021  for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you’re running the marathon, cheering someone on or just want to be part of the action, there is a lot you need to know to have a great day.


Important things to know about 2021

The biggest change this year is that the marathon and half marathon will not be international. With restrictions crossing the border, runners won’t be cross the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and then taking the tunnel back.

Instead, this year’s half-marathon route runs north into Midtown, New Center and to the Boston Edison District before heading back toward the city. The full marathon will take that same route and then head east, onto Belle Isle and then back.

For packet pickup at the Health and Fitness Expo, you will also have to wear masks. Click here to view maps.


How you can help…

If you’d still like to participate, you can volunteer with the marathon. You can register for volunteering by clicking here. There are positions starting on Thursday morning to help stuff goodie bags, and many positions open on Friday to help with packet pickup.

If you want to be part of the action on race day, there are different positions for packet pickup, course monitors, gear check and more.

Best places to watch…

If you’ve come to the city to cheer on friends or family, or just to support random strangers, there are several spots to do so. (Reminder, there will be many streets closed for the event).

The start/finish line is on Fort. St. between Cass Ave. and 1st St. and it’s a great place to see runners take off, and then triumphantly cross the finish line hours later. You can also catch them near the middle of the marathon back near Campus Martius.

If you head up to Midtown and New Center, they will run along 3rd Ave. and then to Cass Ave. going north. There are great places to post up and watch.


Best places for food and drinks…

Whether you’re looking to kill time during the race, or celebrate after the race, Detroit has a variety of delicious, and healthy options.

Near the start-finish line in Downtown Detroit, Anchor Bar has a variety of great food, but if you’re looking to splurge, the totchos (tater tot nachos) are the way to go.

There’s Checker Bar which offers delicious bar food right off Campus Martius Park, and an arcade on top for some more fun.

After watching someone start the race, head over to Hudson Café for a variety of delicious brunch items. If you want to try the Cinnabunn pancakes, you won’t be disappointed, but if you want the healthier option, they have a variety of vegan and vegetarian food, and salads.

You also can’t go wrong visiting either of Detroit’s classic coney island spots – Lafayette or American – for some post-race chili, mustard and onions.



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If you’re watching in the Midtown area, Great Lakes Coffee Roasters is a spot to get a boost of caffeine and also a great sandwich.

There are also a variety of breweries if you’re looking for an alcoholic drink, like Jolly Pumpkin and Motor City Brewing Works.

Treat Dreams is a great spot to get unique ice cream if you have a sweet tooth after the race.

Near the northern part of the course near New Center, check out Joe Louis Southern Kitchen, right along Woodward Ave., for delicious breakfast.

If you’re looking to try something new, YumVillage offers incredible Afro-Caribbean meals, and Baobab Fare gives you a taste of East Africa.

There’s also the Detroit classic, Supino Pizza, offering full New York-style pizzas by the pie or by the slice.


The after party…

Finally, the marathon is hosting an after party from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. called “Conquered.” It takes place in the block between W. Lafayette and Fort St. and Third Ave. and the Lodge Service Dr.


Detroit Free Press Marathon runner on the Detroit river

Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon is Oct. 16-17. Are you up for it?

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Anchor Bar Detroit
    450 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226
  2. 2
    Checker Bar, Pop + Offworld
    124 Cadillac Square, Detroit, MI 48226
  3. 3
    Campus Martius Park
    800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  4. 4
    Hudson Cafe
    1241 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  5. 5
    Lafayette Coney Island
    118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
  6. 6
    American Coney Island
    114 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
  7. 7
    Jolly Pumpkin
    441 W. Canfield St., Ste. 9, Detroit, MI 48201
  8. 8
    Motor City Brewing Works
    470 W. Canfield St., Detroit, MI 48201
  9. 9
    Treat Dreams
    4160 Cass Ave., Detroit,
  10. 10
    Supino Pizzeria
    2457 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  11. 11
    Belle Isle State Park
    99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
  12. 12
    Great Lakes Coffee Roasters
    3965 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
  13. 13
    Joe Louis Southern Kitchen
    6549 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    (313) 788-8338
  14. 14
    6500 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
  15. 15
    Baobab Fare
    6568 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
    (313) 265-3093