On Sunday, October 13th with nervous excitement 45,000 runners will cross the start line at the Chicago Marathon. This year’s race was in high demand evident when Active.com crashed as tens of thousands attempted to register back in February in the first half hour it opened. The Chicago Marathon has been known to be a flat, fast course with unrelenting weather conditions - cold, hot, rainy, windy. This year runners are facing a new challenge, but accepting it with open arms.
The Chicago Marathon, one of the three World Majors held in the US will be the first major since the 2013 Boston Marathon which shook the deepest trenches of the souls of runners from across the globe. As a result of the Boston bombings, Chicago race officials have made plenty of modifications to accommodate an unfortunate modern day threat. It’s easy to get caught up in the inconvenient modifications, but as I see it, they are most welcomed by my fellow runners.
Last April, I was living in New York. I took a bus up to Boston to meet my brother Jason and sister-in-law Dana who were both qualified to Boston Marathon. At the time, sadly, my brother chose to revoke his elite entry and decided his injury was too serious to run on for 26.2 miles. After packet pickup on Sunday, the three of us snuck off the beaten path and found a lovely italian restaurant with no wait. What?! (That doesn't happen.) I’ll keep this location a secret!
I took this photo the night before the race after leaving the restaurant. Not an award winning photo obviously, but this is one of the most cherished photos I've ever taken.
To most people, they see a young couple being goofy and enjoying their time together. What do I see? I see those prized Boston Marathon jackets that are worth more to runners than any medal ever will. I see Dana holding onto Jason with a dependable embrace. I see the way they were smiling and it reminds me that the spirit of the marathon is so innocent but strong and unwavering.
This photo has haunted me ever since I got a phone call from Jason at 2:50pm on April 15th asking me what the heck was going on. I could hear the chaos in the background while I was lounging comfortably in my NYC apartment. I turned the TV on, but no news station had started covering it yet. My head began to spin as I headed out into the subway for a training session on the Upper East Side. I started to get phone calls and texts from people who thought I had stayed and watched the race. I will never forget that day.
It’s debatable to say that those who ran or watched Boston this year have moved on from the chaos of April 15th. We will undoubtedly celebrate their spirit which has endured all of the physical and mental challenges of the past six months. Sunday’s event will be emotional for all of the right reasons as we toe the line, shoulder to shoulder, amongst this country’s biggest and greatest “fraternity”.
I look forward to the marathon this weekend. It will be an honor to stand before the start with 45,000 of my closest friends as we cheer each other on throughout the entire 26.2 grueling miles. I encourage those participating to witness the innocence and purity of what you are about to accomplish and the enduring spirit of runners and their friends and families throughout the weekend as we take back and own one of the world's most prized and legendary marathons.
My friend Cole and I before the 2012 Boston Marathon.