After reading Randy’s glowing report about the Chickamauga Battlefield marathon, it made me think about my favorite marathon and why.
Having done 23, my favorite marathon is the Chicago Marathon. In this joggler’s opinion, it is the best marathon you can do particularly if you are a first-timer. Here are my top 7 reasons Chicago is my favorite marathon.
1. Best cheering section
Having a big crowd to cheer you on makes finishing the marathon ten times easier. You spend so much time looking in the crowd for familiar faces, you forget how much pain you’re in. And for juggling runners, when are you ever going to get to perform in front of an audience of over 100,000?
2. Easiest starting area
The New York marathon is a fine race and crossing over the bridge is inspiring. However, it takes an over 2 hour ride on a smelly bus just to get to the starting line. For Chicago, you hop on the el, walk a block or so to Buckingham Fountain and you’re there. No rush,no fuss.
3. Fast and easy course
Not that any marathon is “easy” but the Chicago marathon course is not as hard as some. New York has hills and bridges. Boston has a hill nicknamed “Heartbreak Hill”. The only hill in Chicago is a slight incline on the way into the final stretch. You would be hard-pressed to find a flatter, faster marathon than Chicago.
4. Great race expo
For a first timer, you’ll want to experience a big race expo. In Chicago, you won’t be disappointed. They’ll have representatives from hundreds of companies, races, and charities. The expo lasts a couple of days and you just might need it to see everything.
5. Easy to get in
Boston makes you qualify. New York makes you win the lottery. To get into the Chicago marathon, you merely have to sign your name and send in your money. They want you to run this race.
6. Best organization
In the Chicago marathon, it’s clear exactly where you are supposed to line up. If you are fortunate enough to get a seeded position, you simply line up in the appropriate corral. Even the non-seeded runners can find signs indicating their approximate pace. Sure the crowds are huge at the start and it may even take you 20 minutes to start, but that only adds to the excitement. At the end of the marathon, it’s simple to find your medal, get the aluminum warming sheet, and load up on food and drinks. They even have beer!
7. They are friendly to jogglers
Perhaps the best reason I love the Chicago marathon. In the 10 years that I’ve done the race, I’ve never once had an issue with someone getting annoyed that I was joggling. Granted, I follow all the tips to be a considerate joggler, but race officials have been perfectly willing to leave me alone and let me joggle.
So, that’s why the Chicago marathon is my favorite race. If you want small and intimate, forget it. If you want fast and roomy, you won’t find it here. But if you want to EXPERIENCE the marathon, then there is no better place to do it than the Chicago Marathon.
What do you think? Is Chicago the best marathon or do you have one that you think is better? Leave a comment and let us know.