The Chicago Marathon is an annual event that takes place in Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is also one of the six major marathons, known as World Marathon Majors that are held in major cities all over the globe. The first modern Chicago marathon was held on 25th September, 1977 under the name of Mayor Daley Marathon, although the history of Chicago Marathon dates back to 1905. The modern marathon was able to attract a total of 4,200 runners from which only 2,128 were able to cross the finish line. Since 1977, the race is being held annually each year, with the exception of 1987, when just a half-marathon was conducted.Only 45,000 participants are allowed to compete in the Chicago Marathon. Apart from that participants that finish the race within 6 hours and 3 minutes are timed by the officials. The only two ways by which people who want to compete are through general lottery or either by meeting the predetermined qualifying time standard. Though the race has very limited registration but exceptions are made in case of charity representative and elite runners.
In the early days the marathon was held each year in August. By the start of 1980s the race was only able to grab the attention of amateur runners. But in 1982, the Chicago Marathon had sufficient prize amount to attract the top word class athletes to compete. By 1984, the prize amount was raised to 250,000 US Dollars, which was 50,000 US Dollars more than the New York’s Marathons. The 1985 Chicago Marathon remained memorable because of Steve Jones, a professional athlete who came near to break his own world record for marathon but fell short by just two seconds. The Chicago Marathon of 1986 attracted 40 top level and word class athletes apart from the 8000 other participants. The first sponsor of the marathon, Beatrice dropped out as the official sponsor that year, because of that only half-marathon took place that year. In 1992, the race was held without sponsorship. Later on in 2001, the women’s world record for marathon was set by Catherine Ndereba at the Chicago Marathon. In 2007, the race made history by conducting the first ever marathon for CEOs, executives, presidents and company owners. It was named CEO Marathon Challenge and was able to raise 5 million US Dollars.
The Chicago Marathon is run in a loop course, which starts from Grant Park and also ends there. The course then passes through 29 neighbourhoods of Chicago. The loop course of the marathon is divided in three parts; North, South and West. There are 20 aid stations along the course of the marathon which are about 1-3 miles away from each other. The course also has digital timers that are positioned at about 5 km away from each other.
Regarding the number of entries, the first marathon in 1905 attracted 20 runners of which 15 showed up and only 7 were able to complete. The first modern Chicago Marathon held in 1977, over 1,000 people registered, though the expected number was just around 300. 9,000 people participated in the 1995 Chicago Marathon. In 1999, more than 29,000 participants registered for the marathon. In 2001, the marathon had the participant numbers about 37,500. In the subsequent years the number of participants reached about 40,000. In 2007, as high as 45,000 people registered for the Chicago Marathon.
The Chicago Marathon predominantly attracts Caucasian participants of different ages, sexes and various social classes. It is also worth mentioning that women were never excluded from the Chicago Marathon, though the women participation has been less than the men’s, but now in recent years women have started to outnumber men in the age group of 20s. In the Chicago Marathon, the world records have been set four times. In 1984, the world record was set by Steve Jones at 2:08:05. Khalid Khannouchi set the record in 1999’s Chicago Marathon and was timed at 2:05:42. In the next 2 years the world records for women were broken. Firstly in 2001 by Catherine Ndereba who was timed at 2:18:47 and the by Paula Radcliffe who was timed at 2:17:18 and broke the previous world record made by Catherine Ndereba.
The Chicago Marathon is also becoming more and more famous among the runners because of its flat and fast course which facilitates and helps the runners to better their previous records as well as make world record performances. Apart from that the race has also achieved an elite status because of developing good relations with various corporate sponsors, who give prize money to attract the runners which have had good records in the past. The Bank of America has been the official sponsor of the Chicago Marathon since 2008 and it is officially called as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The Chicago Marathon also has very positive impact on the tourism industry of Chicago.
In 2010, a survey took place and about 10,000 of the competitors told that they were visiting Chicago for the first time. According to statistics, people from about 100 countries have participated in the Chicago Marathon. Before and after the event the occupancy rates at the hotels in Chicago spike. It has also been estimated that he 2009’s Chicago Marathon was able to contribute about 150 million US Dollars’ worth of activities and the local economy of the city of Chicago generated 1,310 jobs. The Chicago Marathon has also been very helpful for the charities. Although the prospective participants are registered for the even on a first-come-first-serve basis but the charities and the elite runners are given extended deadlines. Many local, national and global humanitarian organisations and charities have been able to raise funds through sponsored participation in the marathon. The 2006’s Chicago Marathon raised upwards of 9.2 million US Dollars for charities and 2007 version of the marathon had about 85 charity partners.
Keeping all of the above facts in mind it can be safely said that the Chicago Marathon is quite famous among the residents of US as well as runners from across the globe. If you are looking to participate in any marathon then surely the Chicago Marathon is one great events to participate in.