Some marathon runners like the local flavor and small-town feel of races with 1000-5000 participants. Some don't care for the crowds and the more complicated logistics of the big races of 20,000-40,000 runners and walkers. Me? I want helicopters circling over me and my myriad companions at the dawn start. I want to run the same race that world record holders are running. I thrive on the energy of the tens of thousands running with me and the hundreds of thousands watching. Of the 8 different marathons I've run, the Chicago Marathon is my favorite.

Sure, I love New York -- I grew up there. The New York City Marathon was my first marathon ever, and you never forget your first. Love it as I do, the NYC isn't my favorite: you have to sit in the cold at the Staten Island start for hours, and that's only if you win the lottery to enter. I aspire to enter the historic Boston Marathon, but I don't look forward to the hilly course.

For me, Chicago is perfection. The course is flat and fast. I've set personal records 2 out of the 3 times I've ran there; this year I broke 3 hours, 20 minutes. The views are great. Held the Sunday before Columbus Day every October, the weather in Chicago has been great with temperatures in the 40's-50's and not much wind. At the 2002 post race party (at the Navy Pier), Paula Radcliffe, who broke the women's record there and shattered it next April in London (I was there too), said "Good job" to me (and hundreds of my friends). THEY HAVE FREE BEER AT THE FINISH.

The race starts and ends in Grant Park near Buckingham Fountain. Many go out too fast, slightly downhill through the downtown streets. After a zig and a zag, we head north through neighborhoods which look like good livin' to me: Old Town, Lincoln Park, and Wrigleyville. I'm told we get close to Wrigley Field, but I haven't seen it on the run. Then we head back downtown through Greektown, Little Italy, Pilsen, Chinatown (watch out for the dancing dragon), Bridgeport, the Gap District, and South Commons, or so I'm told. We run by both the United Center and Cominskey Park. At mile 22, still heading south and away from the finish, our legs and feet are begging for the turn to head north and back toward the finish. Finally at 35th Street we make the turn and trot up Michigan Ave past the Museum Campus and Soldier Field, and into Grant Park.

I give this marathon the highest rating possible. If big crowds aren't your scene, then this race isn't for you. In my mind, you can't beat a race where everyone in town knows it's going on, you see dozens of other sore, happy runners around town and in the airports, and everyone is treated like a champion.

Below the male and female winners are listed. Initials after their results correspond to record times: WR= world record, NR = national record, ER = Event record, WDR = world debut record, NAR = North American record.

2007, record heat, race halted after 4 hours
Patrick Ivuti, Kenya 2:11:11
Berhane Adere, Ethiopia 2:33:49
Robert K. Cheruiyot, Kenya 2:07:35
Berhane Adere, Ethiopia 2:20:42
Felix Limo, Kenya 2:07:04
Deena Kastor, USA 2:21:24
Evans Rutto, Kenya 2:06:16
Contantina Tomescu-Dita, Romania 2:23:45
Evans Rutto, Kenya 2:05:50
Svetlana Zakharova, Russia 2:23:07
Khalid Khannouchi, United States 2:05:56
Paula Radcliffe, Great Britain 2:17:18 WR, ER
Ben Kimondiu, Kenya 2:08:52
Catherine Ndereba, Kenya 2:18:47 WR
Khalid Khannouchi, Ossining, NY 2:07:01 NR
Catherine Ndereba, Kenya 2:21:33
Khalid Khannouchi, Morocco 2:05:42 WR, NR, ER, NAR
Joyce Chepchumba, Kenya 2:25:59
Ondoro Osoro, Kenya 2:06:54 WDR
Joyce Chepchumba, Kenya 2:23:57
Khalid Khannouchi, Morocco 2:07:10
Marian Sutton, Great Britain 2:29:03
Paul Evans, Great Britain 2:08:52
Marian Sutton, Great Britain 2:30:41
Eamonn Martin, Great Britain 2:11:18
Ritva Lemettinen, Finland 2:28:27
Luiz Antonio, Dos Santos Brazil 2:11:16
Kristy Johnston, Coos Bay, OR 2:31:34
Luiz Antonio, Dos Santos Brazil 2:13:15
Ritva Lemettinen, Finland 2:33:18
Jose Cesar, De Souza Brazil 2:16:14
Linda Somers, Pleasant Hill, CA 2:37:41
Joseildo Rocha, Brazil 2:14:33
Midde Hamrin-Senorski, Sweden 2:36:21
Martin Pitayo, Mexico 2:09:41
Aurora Cunha, Portugal 2:30:11
Paul Davies-Hale, Great Britain 2:11:25
Lisa Weidenbach, Issaquah, WI 2:28:15
Alejandro Cruz, Mexico 2:08:57
Lisa Weidenbach, Issaquah, WI 2:29:17
Loss of sponsorship
Half-Marathon instead
Toshihiko Seko, Japan 2:08:27
Ingrid Kristiansen, Norway 2:27:08
Steve Jones, Great Britain 2:07:13 NR
Joan Benoit Samuelson, Cape Elizabeth, ME 2:21:21 NR, ER, NAR
Steve Jones, Great Britain 2:08:05
Rosa Mota, Portugal 2:26:01
Joe Nzau, Kenya 2:09:44
Rosa Mota, Portugal 2:31:12
Greg Meyer, Wellesley, MA 2:10:59
Nancy Conz, E. Hampton, MA 2:33:23
Phil Coppess, Clinton, IA 2:16:13
Tina Gandy, Des Moines, IA 2:49:39
Frank Richardson, Ames, IA 2:14:04
Sue Peterson, Laguna Beach, CA 2:45:03
Dan Cloeter, Norfolk, NE 2:23:20
Laura Michalek, Berwyn, IL 3:15:45
Mark Stanforth, Phoenix, AZ 2:19:20
Lynae Larson, Brookings, SD 2:59:25
Dan Cloeter, Fort Wayne, IN 2:17:52
Dorothy Doolittle, Austin, TX 2:50:47

See also

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