On Sunday, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon kicked off its 39th year of racing 26.2 miles. Chicago never fails to provide the beautiful views, epic entertainment and marathon energy that every runner would want on race day.
The race is limited to 45,000 runners, but add the number of runners to the number of participants, volunteers and casual bystanders, and you have an incredibly large crowd rooting you through those 26.2 miles.
The corrals kicked off at 7:30 a.m. with wave one making it’s way out and wave two starting shortly after at 8 a.m. Although that crisp morning wind was coming in strong off the lake, the warm, fall sun hit nicely to create an absolutely flawless day of running weather.
Chicago is known for the big city, big shoulder bravado with a friendly neighborhood feel. So, it’s no wonder the Chicago Marathon course takes you through 29 different neighborhoods. The race course begins in the legendary Grant Park, where sweatshirts, jackets and gloves are thrown to the sidelines before the racers take the steps under Columbus Drive towards the start line.
Participants run through River North, Lincoln Park, Lakeview East and Boystown in just the first half; once you hit the Bank of America Cheer Zone at mile 13, you know you are close to halfway. With Greektown, the West Loop and Little Italy on the horizon, the crowds increase and the noise is anything but silent.
As participants pass through the University Village and Illinois Medical District at mile 18, several volunteers from the surrounding medical educational facilities make their way onto the course to help those in need — shout out to the Loyola Medical students! At mile 19, runners enter Pilsen, an amazing contributor to Chicago’s Mexican-American influence, and at mile 20, they get a taste of the “Chicago Arts District” in East Pilsen. The last stretch of glory hits with Bridgeport, Bronzeville and the South Loop before heading back to Grant Park.
Having run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in the past, I felt like this one was by far the loudest — every local neighbor was out with their family, every visitor was holding a sign from their country, and everyone else was filled with excitement when they saw their runner go by.
It was an epic day for all runners, and the elites did not fail to impress; Florence Kiplagat had a post-race dance party after her 2:21:32 marathon finish, celebrating her second consecutive Chicago Marathon win. She also beat the second place female, who happened to be her sister Edna, by nearly two minutes. Kenya’s 34-year-old Abel Kirui, Kiplagat’s training partner, came away with the win in the men’s division with a time of 2:11:23.
For United States finishers, Diego Estrada was the first male to cross the finish line, who almost didn’t make it after a slip at the six mile aid station. But, he stuck with it and finished in an impressive 2:13:56. Serena Burla, 34 from Virginia, was the first U.S female to finish the Chicago Marathon in 2:30:40. After a dramatic photo finish, Marcel Hug won the Chicago Marathon Wheelchair race for the men’s division and McFadden brought the win for the women’s division. Representing their hometown, Joseph Reagan and Emily Casey were the first Chicago finishers, with times of 3:25:02 and 3:28:20, respectively. For more results, visit the race website.
Once again, Chicago put on an epic day of racing for all the runners involved. However, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon would not have been as successful without all the family, friends, volunteers, locals and people from all over the world who traveled to cheer us all on this journey in accomplishing a huge goal.