CHICAGO – The fourth-largest race by number of finishers worldwide, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon celebrated 41 years this Sunday, October 7th. Drawing an estimated 1.7 million spectators and over 40,000 runners from all 50 states and 100 plus countries, the Chicago Marathon helps raise millions of dollars for a variety of charities and causes.
This year’s winners were (men’s) Great Britain’s Mo Farah who came in at 2:05:11, and (women’s) Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei who came in at 2:18:35.
The race’s iconic course takes runners on a tour through 29 vibrant neighborhoods, including Chicago’s famous Greektown, which had double the reasons to celebrate this Greek tradition.
Equipped with handcrafted signs, a lively crowd gathered in the drizzle and rain to cheer on the thousands of runners who came down West Jackson Blvd., turning south on Halsted St. in the heart of Greektown.
“I have been cheering on our friends who run the marathon for years,” said Kathryn Logan, a spectator at Sunday’s event. “We follow them around the course at several spots, but Greektown is our favorite cheer spot,” she said.
The Greektown SSA manned a kiosk offering spectators a taste of Greece with mini Greek flags and complimentary coffee and cookies from Artopolis Cafe. They kept the runners going to the beat of loud and energetic Greek music that played throughout the day.
A long-distance race of 42.195 kilometers, the marathon commemorates the Greek soldier Pheidippides, who is said to have run the distance from Marathon to Athens to report victory in the Battle of Marathon (490BC) against the Persians, collapsing after relaying the message “chairete, nikomen.”
A sport included in the 1896 modern Olympics, the marathon is popular throughout the globe. The Chicago Marathon mirrors the Athens Authentic Marathon, which takes place in early November and attracts over 43,000 runners to a route throughout Athens that finishes at the Panathianaiko Stadium.
An highly anticipated annual event, this year’s marathon is expected to bring an estimated $338 million in economic impact to the city of Chicago and local businesses, according to an independent study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“What started as a local race with a few thousand runners has grown into a world-class, environmentally responsible event and Chicago tradition for the city’s residents,” said Carey Pinkowski, Bank of America Chicago Marathon executive race director, according to a Bank of America release. “The marathon’s outsized impact on our city and community comes to life in what I like to call a 26.2 mile celebration of commitment, determination and passion for everyone involved.”
The marathon commences and finishes in Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park – a 319-acre public park located in the city’s central business district in the Loop Community area.