Fall in Chicago
As October approaches, the city of Chicago gears up for its most celebrated athletic event—the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Scheduled for October 8, 2023, the event promises to be a gathering of gritty endurance, talent, and a deep-rooted tradition in long distance running. This year marks another chapter in the storied history of this iconic 26.2 mile foot race through the “Windy City”. With the loop course layout and abundance of spectators lining the streets, it promises to make an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of the thousands of marathon runners set to take on this challenge.
Founded in 1977, the Chicago Marathon has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings. Initially named the Mayor Daley Marathon, the race had just over 4,200 participants in its first running. Today, the event attracts over 45,000 runners from all
corners of the globe and an estimated 1.7 million spectators along the 26.2 mile course. To date, over 900,000 people have finished the Chicago Marathon, who will be number 1 million?
The entry fee for the first Chicago Marathon was just $5. In that first year, an 8-year-old, Wesley Paul, managed to finish the course in 3:15:20. At that time, the Chicago Marathon was the largest marathon race in the world, even bigger than New York City. The 1977 men’s winner was Indiana native Dan Cloeter, who ran 2:17:52, while Texan Dorothy Doolittle won the women’s race in 2:50:47.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a long history of hosting the world’s fastest runners and has been the site of marathon world records including Steve Jones, 2:08:05, 1984; and Khalid Khannouchi, 2:05:42, 1999, and three women’s world records Catherine Ndereba, 2:18:47, 2001; Paula Radcliffe, 2:17:18, 2002; and Brigid Kosgei, 2:14:04, 2019.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon serves as the penultimate race in the Abbott World Marathon Majors, with Kelvin Kiptum well poised to move into an unassailable lead in the men’s division. The young Kenyan dazzled at the TCS London Marathon in April, clocking 2:01:25 to move into second on the all-time men's marathon list. He faces three former Chicago champions in Benson Kipruto, who won here last year, Seifu Tura, the 2021 champion, and 2017 victor Galen Rupp.
Remember, Kelvin Kiptum, is making his first marathon appearance in the USA at this year's Chicago marathon. The 23-year-old Kenyan has an unparalleled marathon start. He set the record for the quickest debut marathon with a time of 2:01:53 in Valencia, last year. In his second marathon in London, this April, he improved with a time of 2:01:25, ranking it second all-time behind Kipchoge’s Berlin Marathon in 2022. With Chicago's history of hosting men's world records in 1984 and 1999, what will Kiptum achieve this Sunday along the shores of Lake Michigan?
While the world watched as his countryman Eliud Kipchoge, made his latest assault on his own world record two weeks ago on the streets of Berlin, the great marathoner of Kenya, could not lower the mark of 2:01:09 set in Germany, in 2022.
It leaves the stage set clearly for Kiptum to attack the time again on a famously fast road marathon course, and potentially with great weather three days out. Victory would elevate him to 50 points in the series, with only Evans Chebet capable of matching him should he win in New York City in November. Victory in Chicago for Kiptum, plus a world-record time (sub 2:01:09) would place him into the legendary status for one of the all-time greatest marathon runners.
US Women Elites in 2023
In this year’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson (2nd place in 2022), will compete again where she previously set an American record with a time of 2:18:29. At 31, Sisson, residing between Flagstaff, Arizona, and Providence, Rhode Island, will face a strong contender in Emma Bates, 31, from Boulder, Colorado. Emma hinted at being in top form before securing a fifth-place finish with a personal best of 2:22:10 at the Boston Marathon last spring. Sisson and Bates are leading a deep field of USA women marathoners for making the U.S. Olympic team in Paris next summer. The marathon trials will be held on February 4th, in Orlando, Florida, to select three men and three women for the Olympics in Paris, France in 2024.
Spectating the Chicago Marathon requires a blend of planning and high level enthusiasm. And if you are the creative type, encouraging or even funny poster board signs are a marquee fixture along the way; send your photos to the local news channels and they will likely they use them in their Chicago Marathon coverage. If you're aiming to catch a glimpse of a specific runner, consider downloading the official race app, which offers live tracking. Start by positioning yourself in the early miles, perhaps near the Lincoln Park area, where the crowds are less dense. As the race progresses, the West Loop and Little Italy present lively spectating spots. For a climactic experience, the final stretch near Grant Park is exhilarating but can be very crowded. Utilize the city's efficient public transportation to move between spots, and always arrive early to claim a good viewing point. Most importantly, bring your energy and cheer—it's an integral part of the marathon experience!
Tradition runs deep in the Chicago Marathon lead up and race day experience. The course takes runners through 29 neighborhoods, offering a multi-faceted look at the city's diverse culture. From the high-energy downtown area to residential
neighborhoods, the marathon serves as an annual showcase of what makes Chicago a unique midwestern city. The crowd support is the stuff of legends according to the participants. Each year, local bands play along the route, and "charity miles" offer participants a chance to run for a cause close to their hearts. Family cheering stations and massive volunteer involvement create an atmosphere of community engagement that sets this event apart from many other major sporting events in the Windy City.
Run on to new heights DGR, at the 2023 Chicago Marathon!