|The sun also rises over Michigan Avenue|
On October 9, nearly 45,000 participants ran in the 34th annual Chicago Marathon. Along with the races in New York, Boston, Berlin, and London, Chicago's is considered one of the "World Marathon Majors". Unlike the Boston Marathon (in which only about two miles actually take place WITHIN Boston’s city limits), the entire Chicago Marathon is a journey through some of the city’s most notable neighborhoods.
This year, one of those 45,000 was Laura, your fair blogger for this site. Meanwhile, Michael actively participated…as moral support from the sidelines. While Laura was focused on completing her first marathon, Michael ran around several of the neighborhoods to catch the action.
Below is a list of each mile and which neighborhood the runners traversed. We’ve also attached an image of the scenes where Michael caught the action.
Mile Intersection Neighborhood
Start Millenium Park The Loop
|Beautiful morning for a nice, long run|
Michael's Take: It was a beautiful, cool morning. Still, with the sun just peeking over Lake Michigan as we got off the Brown Line and walked over to Columbus. There was an overwhelming crowd gathered (counting the supporters, maybe around 100,000 people in just a couple city blocks) and there was definitely a startling energy through the air. After trying to instill some words of confidence to Laura, I let her wander over to her corral. I grabbed some coffee and a quick bite to eat as the race got underway. So I scampered over to the Harrison Red Line station to try and catch Laura. For a race that even the fastest in the world require over two hours, it certainly moves at a rapid pace, especially when trying to jump around and catch the race from different vantage points.
Mile 2 State & Jackson The Loop
Mile 3 La Salle & Kinzie River North
Mile 4 La Salle & Division Gold Coast/River North
|LaSalle Street Church is part of the background at Mile Four|
Michael's Take: Where the Gold Coast and River North meet is an interesting place to watch the race. It was easily accessible via the Clark/Division Red Line station and hosted a packed crowd. It got to about three people deep on Division, with some of the surlier crowd trying to push their way through. There's no barricade, which allotted certain people to take their lives into their own hands and run across one of the widest parts of the course. Otherwise, you could give a high-five to one of the tens of thousands moving northward. I missed Laura here, probably due to the fact that La Salle is so wide. Still there's beautiful scenery down the street, notably the stunning LaSalle Street Church. This was one of the busier locations that I viewed the race.
Mile 5 Stockton & Wisconsin Lincoln Park/Old Town
Mile 6 Canon & North Pond Lincoln Park
Mile 7 Lake Shore Dr & Roscoe Lakeview East
Mile 8 Broadway & Aldine Boystown/Lakeview East
|A third of the way home and still going strong|
Michael's Take: I caught up again with the race near mile eight at Clark and Diversey, right on the Lake View-Lincoln Park border. This is a good place to watch the race. There are barricades between the crowd and the runners, but it's not terribly congested, and you can get right up to the action if you wait just a couple minutes. I took the Brown Line to Diversey and then it was a few minute jog, but I made it and got to see Laura as she approached the 1/3rd mark. This seemed to be the spot with the most families. Lots of parents and seniors with young children. Also, Clark gets fairly narrow at this point, so it's much easier to spot your favorite runner(s) as opposed to along La Salle which is exponentially wider.
Mile 9 Clark & Deming Lincoln Park
Mile 10 Sedgwick & Willow Old Town
Mile 11 Wells & Division River North
Mile 12 Orleans & Hubbard River North
|Soak it up, this is the one day a year you get to do this |
downtown and not worry about getting hit by a cab.
Mile 13 Clinton & Adams West Loop
Mile 14 Throop & Adams West Loop
Mile 15 Damen & Van Buren Near West Side/United Center
Mile 16 Racine & Jackson West Loop
Mile 17 Halsted & Polk Little Italy/University Village
Mile 18 Laflin & Taylor Little Italy
|Running in Little Italy? That's a spicy meatball!|
Mile 19 Ashland & 18th Pilsen
Mile 20 Halsted & 19th Pilsen
Mile 21 Canal & Archer Armour Square/Chinatown
Mile 22 Wentworth & 26th Armour Square
Mile 23 State & 33rd Bronzeville/Douglas
|This is the point of the race|
where shirts become optional.
Mile 24 Michigan & 29th Bronzeville/Douglas
Mile 25 Michigan & 21st South Loop
Mile 26 Indiana & Roosevelt South Loop
|"Hey, what are they giving away over here?"|
Finish Grant Park South Loop
|Your favorite bloggers post-race.|
Laura's Take: The Chicago Marathon is a super, super-awesome event. I don't have another marathon or major world marathon to compare it to, but I absolutely loved not only the Marathon itself but the training on the flat trails of Lake Michigan. We are so lucky as Chicagoans to have access to 18 miles of safe, uninterrupted trail. The mornings that I spent watching sun rise over Hollywood Beach I will never forget, and the times when the weather was on my side almost made times when it was not worth it. Even though I was training by myself, I felt sort of a camaraderie with the same people I would see 3-4 times a week getting in their miles early in the morning, whether they were young or old, joggers or walkers or the clear elites who just rip up those trails. It was amazing to see the amount of spirit and determination among the runners, even if I didn't directly train with them: the motivation to be up and running almost every day, the confidence and heart to make it through searing winds, all types of rain, and in my opinion the worst these, the stifling sun and humidity in the summer when your mileage is really increasing.
Although I was quite nervous about the race, I was really looking forward to absorbing all of the neighborhoods from a new perspective of a runner. Funny enough, that's not really the way it worked out. I think I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn't spend much mental energy on the surroundings apart from scanning the sidelines for Mike and other friends when I knew they were close. This was much more challenging when runners were still bunched up until after Boystown. I crossed the Start line after only about 15 minutes of walking toward it from my start corral, a real feat of engineering and planning if you consider that about 40,000 runners have to all start from the same basic place. The beginning of the course was truly exciting: you are sort of at the gateway to downtown and you are running straight in, part of a huge pack of runners who are raring to go, although they all know the length of what's ahead.
A cool mist awaits the runners at the finish.
I would say the hardest part of the race was definitely from Little Italy through Bronzeville (miles 18-23). Luckily, I had support from my friends on both ends of this stretch. I had mentally prepared to get to 18, which was the furthest I ran in training, and I wasn't sure how much harder it was gonna get before 23 or so. The heat and the lack of fans and things to look at during those hot, painful miles before the final turn on to 35th Street were tough and seemed to drag on and on. However, I never hit the wall (thank you, Marathon, for that Clif shot at mile 17). I cannot express the relief at seeing that I was FINALLY turning onto Michigan Avenue, and realizing that now I could push it, and that this was it, and I was going to finish. Believe it or not there is a cruel and unusual HILL right before the finish! Alex warned me of this, however, so I was ready for it. Sarah and Brian's cheering location at one of the final little turns of the course was SO exciting because I was right there at the end-- thanks partially to the guy who helped them scream my name loud enough that I heard it!
Chicago was my first Marathon, and hopefully it will not be my last. Either way, I will never forget it. I would eagerly recommend doing the marathon to anyone who thinks it is an event they really want to experience for themselves. Remember, registration is open here, the land is flat, and the weather is gr... um, well, let's just say the weather keeps it interesting. :-)
|The full course for the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon|
|The action from the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line station|