I ran Chicago in 2005. If you want to get a hotel room close to Grant Park (Start/Finish) you have to be willing to pay top dollar, that's just the way it is. I paid $275 a night last year to be two blocks from Grant Park. Chicago is a great city, and if this is a first time running Chicago, my advice is to save up and enjoy the weekend downtown. The town is buzzing because of the marathon. The only other option is to find a hotel at O'Hare or Midway Airports and take the subway back and forth. You can find reasonable lodging out there, but then again, you don't get the feel of being in downtown Chicago during Marathon Weekend. Good Luck. I am also running it again this year.