Monday, October 13, 2008

Scenes from the 2008 Chicago Marathon--from a participant

Have camera, will run 26.2 miles. Welcome to my second annual rundown of the run--the 2008 Chicago Marathon. And as I did last year, I carried my digital camera with me. Some of the photographs may not be perfect--I was running after all--and there was sweat on my hands--so I don't expect to win any photojournalism Pulitzer Prizes for my efforts.

And I didn't win any event prizes--except for the satisfaction of finishing my 31st marathon--and my 19th consecutive Chicago Marathon. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn't train much for the race--my official finishing time was 4 hours and 26 minutes.

This year's race, the first one sponsored by the Bank of America, was touted as "26 miles, 29 neighborhoods, one race." When I ran my first Chicago Marathon in 1990, it was not well-received by most city residents. "Why is this marathon blocking my driveway" was a common sentiment expressed by Chicagoans. "(Expletive deleted)" was another.

Oh I'm sure a few grumps complained yesterday, but I think most people who live nearby the race are glad to have the marathon, a world class sporting event, grace their part of town. For instance, "Boystown" on the North Side, the "gay capital of Chicago," always goes out of its way to do something add to the party atmosphere on marathon day. Frontrunners, a gay running club, staffs a Boystown water and Gatorade water station--usually with a theme. Yesterday was no exception, as these members of the "Chicago ROTC" prove. "Don't ask...tell!"

But sorry guys, the better show is on the South Side--Chinatown. Boystown is early in the race, mile 8, Chinatown is at mile 21--past the spot in the race where runners run out of gas---"hitting the wall" in runners' slang. (Luckily I did not "hit the wall" yesterday.)

The dragons are there to ward off bad spirits--something we can use anytime. It was just south of Chinatown during last year's race when I learned that the marathon, because of extreme heat, had been cancelled--temperatures soared into the mid-80s last year--quite warm for Chicago in October, and over thirty degrees higher than the optimal temperature to run 26.2 miles. It was in the low 70s when Sunday's event started at 8:00am, but by the time I hit Chinatown--see what I mean about the importance of those dragons--the temperature hit the low 80s.

After last year's disappointing race, Chicago Marathon officials came up with a color code system to inform runners of the risk level in regards to running the race. When the starting gun went off, the level was yellow--moderate risk. But by the late morning, event officials elevated it to red--high risk. Black--extreme risk--is the highest. Fortunately, it stopped at red. Black means cancellation of the race.

That truck on the left was handing out bottles of water. Last year, several aid stations ran out of water and Gatorade--absolutely inexcusable. This didn't happen yesterday, and that truck was out there, probably part of a marathon rapid-deployment force, not only to help runners who might need some fluids, but to prevent the a "run" on the aid stations.

Five miles later, the race ended. This morning I'm suffering from one nasty blister, some muscle tenderness, and sunburn.

I had a great time, and I can't wait for my twentieth consecutive Chicago Marathon next year.

To the organizers of the Chicago Marathon, from race director Carey Pinkowski on down: Great job!

More posts are coming.

Related post:

Finished another one: 2008 Chicago Marathon

2007 Chicago Marathon posts:

A participant's view of the cancelled Chicago Marathon: UPDATED

Water station mayhem at Chicago Marathon

Happier scenes from Sunday's Chicago Marathon

Shirts of the Chicago Marathon

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1 comment:

Tom Ciesielka said...