Did you watch the Chicago Marathon?
I did. In fact, I went out to cheer on my friends. And holy bejeez.
First off, before I get into my own experiences as a spectator, let me just say this. This was by far the most incredible race ever witnessed, and for so many reasons.
The finishes for both the men (photo finish) and the women (that poor little woman who got smoked in the last ten feet) were beyond words. Didn't see it? Go to the WBBM Chicago website to check out the video. Trust me, it's nothing short of spectacular.
But even more incredible than the winners is the fact that they SHUT DOWN THE MARATHON.
SHUT IT DOWN, PEOPLE.
One of the world's premier races came to an abrupt end at around noon today, when the heat was just too much for the organizers to handle, causing things such as aid stations depletion (people taking so much water there supplies ran out) and subsequently runners' demise. In the end, one person died (male, age 35) and over 250 were taken to local hospitals. EMS from all surrounding suburbs were called into to handle the amount of people that needed medical attention.
I left my spectating post at about 11:30 to head about one mile over to UIC hospital to visit my brother, and the ER entrance was so jammed with ambulances, they were lined up on the street. It wasn't until I got home later that I called my friend "A" who ran (and was pulled off when they closed the course) that I found out how bad things got.
As a spectator, I stood at the 15 mile marker, the corner of Damen and Adams, and watched what would prove to be the most miserable and pain-riddled mass of people I had ever seen, which is a huge statement coming from someone what has spectated several IM's and marathons. At my spot, I stood as still as possible, in a cami and skirt, leaning against the barricade, and could not stop the river of sweat pouring down the back of my legs. I even wore real underwear (not the thong variety) in the event that the sweat was so profuse that the full panty would at least try to catch some of it. But no, ass-sweat prevailed, not to mention stomach sweat, arm pit sweat and forehead sweat. Yikes.
It was bitch-slapping hot out there.
No wind, no clouds, and LOTS of heat and humidity.
I waited and waited for my friends, and apparently left right before they would have passed me (only to discover a $50 parking ticket on my car, at which point I promptly threw a temper tantrum in the middle of the street, and physically walked up to the police, tapped the window, and DEMANDED an explaination....sadly, the cop gave me a good one, so I am out 50 bones. Fuck.) I was disappointed to hear that I missed my friends, but even more disappointed that at least one, "A," got pulled. I still haven't been able to contact my other friend (a 52-year old, multi-marathon veteran) who either got pulled or DNF. I hope it's the former.
However, despite today's outcome, let me finish by making the statement that the Chicago Marathon stands, still, in my eyes, as the best marathon out there. Several times I had to hold back tears watching the mass of spectators, runners and aid helpers alike fill the streets of my hometown with heart, determination and pride. I know a bunch of people are planning to run next year, and my own sister is going to train for a PR and hopefully Boston qualifying time, so next October cannot come fast enough. If you are just thinking about doing it - DO IT. There's no time like the present, no race like Chicago.
Congrats to all who finished, as well as those who tried. In my opinion, everyone out there today deserves a medal.