Just 4,200 runners crossed the first starting line of the then-Mayor Daley Marathon in 1977. Only half of them finished. In the 37 years since, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has had five different names, three sponsors, and one cancellation (1987, when nobody stepped up to sponsor the race). Eight men have seen them all, and they all expect to cross the finish line for the 37th time on Oct. 12.
Here’s a look at the Chicago Eight.
Lives in: Brighton Park
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 4:20
2013 time: 10:30
Best time: 3:04
Favorite marathon experience: Running the first with my brother Paul, hitting the 20-mile mark with my brother John,and when I was 60, walking the course with my daughter after having meniscus surgery in August.
Advice for first-timers: Truly listen to your body and pay attention to what it’s telling you.
Lives in: Downers Grove
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 4:45.
2013 time: 6:09
Best time: 3:59:33
Favorite marathon experience: Running with my Team in Training teammates and my daughter Abby.
What do you miss about the early years of the race? I could keep track of the number of female runners ahead of me. There were only six or seven then.
Lives in: Wilmette
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 5:02
2013 time: 5:16
Best time: 3:50
Favorite marathon experience: My parents meeting me at the finish line after my first marathon. They were glad that I finished but they wondered if their son had gone soft in the head to subject himself to such an ordeal.
Worst experience: My slowest was 5:51 in 1999, basically a fast limp after a fall off
of a ladder. I wasn’t sure that I was going to finish.
How long will you keep running? I’d like to do at least 14 more to get to 50. Then I plan on running as long as I can.
Lives in: Burr Ridge
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 3:12:17
2013 time: 6:30:28
Best time: 2:53:30
Worst experience: In 2007, the hot year. I told my wife at the 11 mile mark that I had never seen so many runners walking so early in the race.
Is there anything you miss about the early days of the race? I miss some of my old running partners who hung up their running shoes.
Favorite marathon experience: Running with my wife in her first marathon in 2004.
Lives in: Bloomingdale
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 4:50
2013 time: 5:12:53
Best time: 3:17
Advice for first-timers: Start slow. You already have your personal best in sight!
What do you miss about the early years of the race? I miss the innocence of it all and feeling immortal.
Favorite marathon experience: Seeing the finish line in 2007. I ran after breaking my leg and going through two months of home IV treatments. This was also the toughest year, as I finished and didn’t know it had closed because of the heat.
Lives in: Antioch
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 3:36
2013 time: 4:01
Best time: 3:07
Favorite part of the course: Seeing my family on Halsted at Adams, and seeing my granddaughters at Halsted and Jackson usually brings a tear to my eye.
Advice for first-timers: It is almost never too cold for a good marathon performance, but heat will rob you of your goals.
How long will you keep running? At least the next 20 years.
Favorite marathon experience: Seeing Steve Jones running in the opposite direction along Lake Shore Drive the year he set the world record (1984).
Lives in: Chicago, near Millennium Park
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 4:21
2013 time: 7:32
Best time: 3:15
Worst experience: I believe it was the 1979 race that was extremely hot. I finished OK, but was then crawling on all fours, and I could not see. I was totally dehydrated, and no one ever came to my aid. I finally managed to reach a water station and hydrate myself.
Advice for first-timers: Go through your marathon checklist the day before. Even pin your bib number on your shirt. When you grab water, crease the cup for easy drinking.
Favorite memory: The first one. I had never run farther than 20 km and did all my training on the Chicago Park District cinder track at Chicago Ave. and Lake Shore Drive. The half mark and finish were both on Lake Shore Drive by Buckingham Fountain. I reached the half mark just in time to see Dan Cloeter, the winner, crossing the finish line! Seeing Cloeter inspired me to finish and to continue running to this day.
Lives in: Chicago
First Bank of America Chicago Marathon time: 4:05:58
2013 time: 10:18:12
Best time: 3:36:19
Favorite part of the course: At my age, the finish line.
What do you miss about the early years of the race? Back then it was run on the lakefront, which is beautiful. Today it’s enjoyable in a different way.
Favorite memory: The first. Not knowing what to expect, not knowing if I was going to be able to finish it. Approaching Soldier Field on the running path there were people sitting or laying on both sides of the road, some resting, others ready to give up. Of those still on their feet most were walking or limping toward the finish. When we crossed the finish line, everybody was congratulating and hugging each other.