Although the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course is very accessible for spectators to view at any point, it’s known that miles 18-24 are typically a dead zone. However, athletic retail store Lululemon identified these miles as the “areas of opportunity,” and will be filling the gaps in Sunday’s race.
At miles 18, 20, 22 and 24, members of the Lululemon marathon support team will be cheering, while handing out push pops and jolly ranchers to give runners a boost of energy, says Chicago Maven Amanda Riskin and Beth Long, assistant manager of Lululemon fashion outlets of Chicago.
“When we were problem solving for race day, we identified the latter third as the hardest part of the race, and we didn’t think that made sense not to have support when runners need it most,” Long says. “We focused on something to make the experience a little bit less desolate.”
Having cheer stations aren’t the only ways Lululemon is involved in marathon weekend though; in fact, the team has created a three-part plan that includes the race day cheering, along with a pre and post-race strategy.
“We broke it up into three parts this year because Chicago is one of the six world major races, and is a big deal in the running community,” Long explains.
The prerace strategy consisted of a group of podcasts to give runners advice from experts. The idea of this stemmed from the fact that first-time runners usually have a lot of questions before the race, and they wanted to get those answered. Long says the podcasts touched on all different topics that may cause apprehension, such as tapering. The videos can be found on the Lululemon Facebook page.
Lululemon invited participants to both of its downtown shops for a postrace recovery session; the downtown Lululemons are at 900 N Michigan Ave., and the corner of Rush and Walton Streets. Additionally, Lululemon will provide branded pedicabs (wrapping shown in picture above) at the finish to take runners anywhere in close proximity for free, including its shops.
The postrace pedicabs is what Long is most excited about this year, “It sounds like its’ going to be pretty cool,” she says.
Lululemon has been in Chicago for 10 years, and has been involved with marathon weekend for just as long; every year, Lululemon tries to have a different approach or focus, but likes to be involved in the community no matter what the plan is.
“Last year we helped sponsor Dare2Tri, and I believe we raised enough money to help them buy hand bikes and bicycles, so we were able to help a different type of athlete,” says Long.
Even though the brainstorming team consisted of only six people, including Long, Lululemon has a couple hundred people helping to implement a plan every year during the Chicago Marathon. Because so many Lululemon customers participate each year, Long says they are just as excited to be involved as the runners are.
“We just hope we can make the day a little more exiting, fun and less stressful for the 45,000 runners that are coming through the finish line,’’ Long says. “Instead of saying ‘we’ll see you at the finish line,’ I want to say ‘we’ll see you at mile 18!’”