Marathons in Chicago Il

There are two important marathon events in Chicago – the full Chicago Marathon, and the city’s half marathon.

Chicago Marathon

The modern Chicago Marathon was conceived in November 1976 by five individuals, Wayne Goeldner, Wendell ‘Wendy’ Miller, Bill Robinson, Sharon Mier, and Noel Nequin. There had been earlier marathons in Chicago in the first half of the 20th Century. The modern race evolved from the 1977 Ravenswood Bank Lakefront 10-Mile Run.

The 10-Mile Run was a success, attracting over a thousand runners. This galvanized Chicago into going a step further and launching a full marathon on September 25th, 1977, which was sponsored by local businessman Lee Flaherty’s Flair Communications. The initial marathon was named after Chicago’s late mayor, Richard J. Daley, and was called the Mayor Daley Marathon.

Over 4,200 runners took part in the first race, which was won by Dan Cloeter (men’s) and Dorothy Doolittle (women’s). Eight-year-old Wesley Paul also completed the course. The race had an inauspicious beginning, as a ceremonial cannon misfired and slightly injured Wayne Goeldner’s wife and daughter.

By the mid-1980s the Chicago Marathon was seen as one of the four biggest marathons in the United States, alongside New York, Boston, and Honolulu. American Olympic gold medallist marathon runner Joan Benoit was to call the Chicago Marathon “The world’s marathon”.

The modern Chicago Marathon has attracted top runners from around the world, especially top women runners such as Ingrid Kristiansen and Rosa Mota, and indeed the last American-born winner of the men’s race was Greg Meyer in 1982. Now called the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, well over 40,000 runners take part every year. World records have been set by Steve Jones and Khalid Khannouchi (men’s) and Catherine Ndereba and Paula Radcliffe (women’s).

Normally held in October, many of the runners run to raise money for charities. The annual Chicago Marathon also has a men and women’s wheelchair race.

Chicago Half Marathon

The Chicago Half Marathon began in 1997, and is held annually, normally in September or October on the city’s South Side. There is also a 5,000 meters race that coincides with the half marathon.

There are around 20,000 runners an event that is billed as one of the biggest half marathons in the US. The Chicago event was founded by Susan Nicholl.

Winners of the first Chicago Half Marathon race were Grzegorz Olszowik (men’s) and Jenny Spangler (women’s). Two of the outstanding participants in the race were Greg Costello (three consecutive wins) and Chris Wehrman (four wins in five years).