Chicago 2008 - Brutal

by Michael C. Joseph, MD
(Hillsborough, NC, USA)

I am a 64 year old MD with a 30-year long distance running history who has run 12 or 13 marathons (including Boston and Honolulu). My last was NYC in 1991 in what felt like a miserable 4:38 in full sweats (my best was 3:42 in 1980). I missed running Chicago in 2005 with my nephew because of work, but I ran the distance myself on that day on my home training course. I started training from April 2008, running 19-24 miles every other weekend then tapering for 4 weeks for a hopeful 4:30-4:45 time.

I found Chicago marathon brutal - with 35 minutes of standing/shuffling to the start, multiple merges until I could run in a straight line at almost 7 miles, thigh cramps at 8 miles, and then the heat (25 degrees hotter than I expected despite checking the weather every day for the preceding week). I stopped every mile after the half for stretches and fluids, and found an unexpected challenge when the the footing was slippery from the discarded gels and squashed cups in the last 8 miles. I finished in 6:10, 1 1/2 hours longer than I ever imagined spending on a marathon course, even at my age.

In summary, the positives were the superb race staff support, at least 4 blocks of fluid every mile, and the enthusiastic spectators. The BIG controllable negative was the size of the race...you just can't give 35,000 people a chance to give any race their best effort. I am sticking to half-marathons for the next year (starting this weekend) then trying to find another marathon with no more than 5,000 finishers since I enjoy the distance and still have goals.

Michael C. Joseph, MD

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Chicago 2008 - Brutal

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Oct 28, 2008
Twin Cities
by: Anonymous

Give the Twin Cities marathon a chance. The second (non-elite) group starts 3 minutes after the elites start and it won't take you that long to cross the start line. The course is flat, the scene unbeatable, and the services and spectators are great. Of course to really enjoy it give yourself a full 16 week training schedule that really challenges you.

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