For 38 years, runners have congregated in the heart of Chicago to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. But it’s more than just running 26.2 miles, says race director Carey Pinkowski, it’s a celebration of humanity.
In a press conference Thursday morning at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, Pinkowski, along with Bank of America Chicago market president Paul Lambert; Bob Marshall with the Ronald McDonald House Charities; Beth Bracco from Park Grill/Blue Plate; and Maureen Lesak, managing director of Bank of America, discussed the importance of the race. Pinkowski, who has been race director for 27 years, says the celebration of human achievement is always rewarding.
“I am fortunate enough to stand here and talk about it, but there are literally thousands of people behind the scenes playing active rolls,” he says. “We could not do it without the support of the agencies … residents, local businesses and crowds on the course.”
Aside from those locally involved, Pinkowski attributes the races’ success to the national participation; this year, all 50 states will be represented at the Chicago Marathon, along with 130 countries.
One of the elements Pinkowski and his team are proudest of is the charity program. Last year, $18.7 million was raised in charities, and since 2002, $150 million has been raised. At the 2016 race, which takes place Sunday, over 10,000 runners will be a part of a charity, which is nearly a fourth of participants.
“When we talk about what the marathon is all about, it really is a celebration of humanity – a celebration of people putting things aside and joining together and creating a community that celebrates commitment, dedication and sacrifice,” Pinkowski says. “There’s nothing casual or impromptu about this.”
Among the 40,000 athletes competing on Sunday, seven of them are men who have participated in all 38 Bank of America Chicago Marathons, and will be going for their 39th. Pinkowski recognized them at the conference as superheroes.
“For me, it’s a special year,” he says. “There’s so many parts that help to make it one of the great sporting events in Chicago, and makes for a great Sunday which is marathon Sunday.”
The press conference kicked off the 39th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon weekend. The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo takes place Friday and Saturday at McCormick Place, and the race is on Sunday in Grant Park. For more information on race weekend or race day, read the Official 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Program.