The Chicago Marathon – October 2018

Report by Angela Wade

On 7th October 2018 Angela Wade and Stephen Lewis completed the 41st Chicago Marathon.  It was an early start and the dark morning was raining as runners made their way to Grant Park for the start.  Stephen was in the first wave which set off at 7.30 (took him 9.49 minutes to cross the line) after the national anthem was sung.  Angela was in the third wave, which started at 8.30 and it took her 12.10 minutes to cross the start line.

The rain had eased for about an hour, but soon started again at 8.00 when Stephen was running the course and Angela was waiting to start.  The rain was getting heavier and heavier and she was now wet and cold waiting to start.  The rain carried on for a bit after she set off, but soon stopped again and stayed that way.

A little bit of history for you.  The first marathon started on 25th September 1977 and was won by an eight year old in a time of 3:15:20!  This was before the age restriction came in force.  The fee was $5.00.  The marathon starts and finishes at Grant Park and takes in 29 neighbourhoods such as Old Town, Little Village and Lincoln Park.

Due to the tall buildings there was a problem with the watches and the GPS and so some runners’ watches had recorded mileage of 27 or 28 miles. We crossed the Chicago River six times and most of the bridges were not concrete, but metal grates and this was hard on your feet. There was matting laid out on the right hand side of each which we all ran across as it was a bit easier.  The only park we ran through was Lincoln Park.  Some of the roads were so straight and long that after a while they all looked the same.  We can’t take anything away from the support of the Chicago people and the street entertainment – just fantastic.

Stephen and Angela shared the world stage with Mo Farah who won the marathon on his first attempt.  This marathon is part of the Abbotts World Marathon Majors, which consists of six stars representing the marathons at New York, Boston, Berlin, London, Tokyo as well as Chicago.  There are around 4,000 finishers to which Stephen became a six star finisher at Boston in 2018.  It was his second Chicago Marathon, having previously run it in 2017.  This was Angela’s first Chicago Marathon and her 4th star.

There were some 12,000 volunteers and 100 pacers supporting the marathon.  44,476 runners collected a medal after crossing the finish line.  Stephen finished 5,721 overall in a time of 3:29:54 and Angela finished 31,563 in a time of 5:01:50.

The finish line refreshment was Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Beer.  Each runner also had a ticket to get a free beer in the Biofreeze 27th Mile post race party.  This was a choice of the wheat beer or the rather lovely Next Coast IPA (which we had).

Chicago is a lovely city.  It is clean and has lots of attractions and the walk (or run if you like to) along the lake trail and around Navy Pier is just gorgeous.  The magnificent mile is mainly made up of designer shops and there are plenty of restaurants.  The speciality is the deep dish pizza and the relish hot dog.  The day after the marathon is Columbus Day and there is a street parade to celebrate this day.  We both recommend it for an international marathon.