Yesterday 40,000 runners representing all 50 states and 125 countries competed in the 28th Annual LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon as an estimated one million spectators lined the streets to cheer them along. The vast majority of the runners completed the 26.2 mile route. But it sure wasn't easy!
Deena Kastor suffered terribly on her way to a rare victory by an American. First, her feet started to act up around mile 18. Then, it was her hamstrings, glutes and lower back at about mile 20. She started limping as she reached the 21st mile. By mile 24, her goal changed from setting a record to just hanging on. As she headed into the final mile she said, "I thought this was going to be the ugliest mile of my life. By the time Kastor crossed the finish line, she confessed, she was a total wreck. "There's nothing I can think of that parallels what that feels like," she said about the pain she felt the last few miles. "These marathons can be unkind. And when they're unkind, they're extraordinarily harsh. And this was a harsh one."
Of course, elite runners like Kastor were only on the course for a couple of hours. She finished in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 25 seconds, just 5 seconds ahead of Tomescu-Dita of Romania and five minutes ahead of third place finisher Masako Chiba of Japan. On the men's side Kenyans occupied the top ten spots, with Felix Limo leading the way at 2:07:02, with all the others finishing under 2:10.
But the average time spent out on the course was nowhere close to that fast. Thousands of middle-packers were only about half way through the race when the elite runners crossed the finish line. Most would still be running two and a half or three hours after Kastor and Limo had already returned to their hotels for a long soak in the tub. Indeed, some of the tail-enders would be on the course another four hours or more. Extraordinary. What an amazing accomplishment of will, endurance, courage, and tenacity! Congratulations to all finishers--but especially to all those middle-packers and tail-enders. Every one was a winner yesterday.
I was originally signed up to run in this race, but because of my schedule I was unable to make the trip. But, I am planning on it next year. I want to be out there with all my fellow middle-packers and tail-enders--long after the elites have zipped up and gone home. And I will be, Lord willing.