Chicago Marathon 2011–Spectator Report

Yesterday I had the special privilege of spectating at one of the largest marathons in the world.  It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to a while, pretty much since I spectated at last year’s Chicago Marathon.

This has been a busy year and pretty much since last year I knew that I would be spectating at the Chicago Marathon. My future cousins (once I tie the knot!) got married this past weekend, and I knew we wanted to celebrate as fully as possible.  Which we did on Saturday night! We also had a friend visiting in town so there was some whooping it up on Thursday & Friday night as well. 

So Sunday was completely for the Marathon, and for me to cheer on 40,000 runners! Jerome (our houseguest), Mike & I woke up early after late nights out, and headed over to Lincoln Park to cheer the runners on around mile 9.5.  We brought along snacks and settled in along Sedgewick just in time for the wheelchair racers to come by.



It was amazing to watch them, and one interesting thing I learned this year is how much a difference in perspective makes.  I knelt down for a good portion of the wheelchair racers passing by, and was amazed at how much more detail I noticed.  Some had a leg extended, some had some feet tucked beneath their body (see 2nd photo).  Gu’s taped to the bike, just like how I stick or pin my gels to my shorts.

Shortly afterward (although just enough time to get a coconut water from the CVS), the pacing vehicles for the runners came by, followed by the front of the pack runners!



You’ll notice in the above Front-of-the-Pack runners that we’ve got a bunch of African runners, and then there is a white, blonde guy in the back of this pack, wearing a red singlet.  That would be none other than Ryan Hall, great American runner. He’ll end up placing 5th in the race.

Then we move onto the other crazy fast runners.  They just speed by you.  I try to reach my hands out and hope one of them will sweep me along to their 3:20 BQ finish.  No one jumped at that offer. 


We saw lots of runners.  Reviewing these photos they look more tired than I thought they did real time:




There was also some fun in people-watching the other spectators:




Cowbells are always appreciated!  You don’t have to yell your voice out.


I always love people who bring signs to cheer on their peeps.  This one said “How’s that mid-life crisis?” and they were out in support for a Chicago Police officer. 


I’m sure whoever was looking for the red Elmo balloons found their family & friends pretty easily.  I also saw balloons on the El subway trains later on in the day, people heading down to other marathon stops or even to the finish line. 

There was also some runners wearing interesting costumes.  Nothing quite as crazy as the Eiffel Tower last year, but still some interesting outfits:




Chefs, Batwoman, and Buzz Lightyear oh my! And tons of cool hats, and an orange-painted Dick Pond racer who went by way too quickly for me to get a photo. 

And then there were the people I know.


I saw this crazy girl (that’s Lilian!) and also saw Kayla from Running: My Anti-Drug in her Determination tank & red polka-dot running skirt!  Rhonda, from CES & running with TNT.  Joanne & Tim – you were both too fast for me to even see you!

On the “L” later on that morning, I saw my first Chicago Marathon finisher of the day.  This amazing man was walking around and dancing to the music while waiting at the Jackson stop. He was on my train and I got to hear some of his story.  He’s 67 and began running six years ago.  He’s completed 16 marathons, and Chicago 2011 was his PR. He wasn’t sure what his time was (clock said 3:26), but we looked it up and saw he ran a 3:23.  Amazing!  I hope I can be as strong as him as I mature!



It was a beautiful day, although hot for runners.  I hope everyone is recovering well and can’t wait to hear other people’s stories from yesterday! 


6 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon 2011–Spectator Report

  1. kilax

    Thanks for sharing all your photos! I missed spectating at the race this year. I am impressed that you saw so many people you know! I didn’t when I spectated in 2009.

  2. Erin

    By the time Ryan Hall got to mile 18 he wasn’t hanging with the pack any more. Sad for him. Great day for spectating, not so much for the runners!

  3. Kayla

    Nice pics! I’m glad you saw me even though I never saw you! Was I on the opposite side of the street at this point? I feel like I was! Glad you had fun though! I’m thinking I’ll probably spectate next year 🙂 IT was great weather for spectating, but I was hating the weather! haha

    1. Lauren Post author

      Yes – you were on the other side of the street! You seemed to turn but I don’t think figured out where the voice yelling your name came from.

      I know it was super hot for you guys… boo…


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