- 3 miles/5K, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
The Chicago Marathon is everything I love about running and should be at the top of everyone's running bucket list. The expo was amazing, the best I have ever attended. I have enjoyed every expo I have attended, I really enjoy spending time and talking to the attendees as well as the vendors. Chicago was amazing, and not just because of the number of people involved. The layout was done in such a way that there was plenty of room to move around in spite of all of the people wandering about. There were also a lot of interactive areas at the expo, from places to leave messages to other runners to a place to sit and watch the course video being played on a continuous loop. Goose Island had free beer and it seemed like every major gear maker had Chicago branded shirts for sale, definitely plenty of opportunities to be separated from your money.
I stayed at the Chicago Hilton which was right across the street from the course start and finish in Grant Park. There were plenty of restaurants around the hotel to choose from and the hotel had an excellent pasta buffet the night before the race. Getting to my corral was as simple as walking across the street and through a metal detector. I was honestly surprised the security wasn't tighter given the shooting in Las Vegas having just taken place. My only complaint about the start area is the potties were not accessible once the corrals started to fill up, there was no way to fight back through the crowds to get to the potty area if you needed to go in the last hour before the start.
The course itself was magnificent. As reported by many before, the tunnel and surrounding buildings prevented most GPS watches from functioning correctly. My watch had me 2 miles further than I was on the course and showed me finishing with over 28 miles on the day so I guess I got an unofficial ultra! But, the course was so well marked I was never unaware of my position. Of course, the thousands and thousands of spectators that lined the entire route made for all the distractions I needed.
The course itself was virtually flat with the most impressive climb coming at mile 26 before turning to the finish line. I am still amazed at how many people lined the course, cheering all of us runners on our way. There were plenty of landmarks to see on the way and there were no boring parts of the route. I was disappointed in not being able to see much of Wrigley Field, but the city of Chicago was definitely the star of this race.
As the day turned to noon, the heat came up into the upper 70's and many of us were hit by cramping in the last few miles. The sudden elevation change at mile 26 had me nursing both hamstrings cramping and my left calf trying to seize up. Of course, this is an indication of poor fueling on my part and not the fault of anything or anyone involved in the race. I loved the passion and dedication of the people involved in putting on this event. I watched crowds of volunteers meeting in the park the day before, getting prepared for the race and setting up tents and tables. And then all of the people who came out all along the course to cheer on the runners was an even more amazing thing to see and be a part of. The Chicago Marathon should absolutely be a part of everyone's race wish list, I look forward to running it again one day.