The Chicago Marathon

Earlier today I watched the Chicago Marathon (Trib article), in which the women's world record was broken in 2:17:18. My friend Lea was running with her father, and we went to cheer her on. She ran with the 5-hour group, which is less than 11 minutes per mile for 26.2 miles. Way to go Lea!

Being a fan was incredibly fun. For the 37,500 runners, there were over a million spectators. We first went downtown and saw Lea on the corner of Franklin and Adams (11.5 miles into the race). Although we missed the elite runners early in the morning, it's probably more fun to watch the 4 to 5 hour groups, who are running the marathon for fun. A lot of the runners had funky costumes. Lea wore a t-shirt saying 'I thought carbo-loading was supposed to help', then an arrow pointed to her butt where it said, 'Stay clear. Gas Exhaust'.
After that, we hopped on the Red line to Chinatown, and saw her there (20 miles). Chinatown was the most exciting neighborhood in which to watch the marathon. The runners were nearly exhausted, but the spectators were drumming and there was a dancing Chinese dragon. The crowd was cheering constantly, and runners kept waiving their arms up for more noise. One poor runner, while motioning for the crowd to cheer, tripped and twisted his ankle.

After a few moon pies and coconut buns, we went back downtown to Grant Park for the finish. It's hard to imagine 37,500 runners, and one million fans. That's a lot of people, and most of them were around Grant Park. It was totally packed and chaotic.

There was a Goose Island Brewery tent advertising "Carbo-Reloading: get Goosed."

Apparently curbs are difficult to maneuver after running a marathon. A few times we saw runners standing at the edge of the road looking hopelessly at a curb, or walking out of their way for a handicap accessible intersection. Lea said it was impossible to go up steps or curbs her legs were so sore.

Afterwards we went back to Lea's apartment for pizza. Being a marathon spectator, I discovered, is a blast. Possibly next year I'll discover what it's like to be a runner.

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