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 Post subject: Chicago Marathon 2008
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:42 pm
Posts: 2
My wife and I recently drove to Chicago to run the marathon. This was my third marathon (First Chicago) and her first ever. Here is our take on the event and the city.

The expo was great! It was the largest event we have ever attended but was very well organized. We arrived Friday night for packet pick up so there were no big crowds yet and this process was smooth and easy. I never received my confirmation packet in the mail and had to go to the participant services booth to get my confirmation ticket. This was also a smooth and easy process. Every booth was well marked so it was easy to navigate. It was $9.00 to park at the expo. When we got to the hotel to check in we were told there was a $35.00 per night fee to park the car! We could have parked it down the street for $20 but then we would have had to haul our stuff back to the hotel and the garage didn't allow in / out access without paying again. So we paid the $35.00 per night at the hotel. We were staying three nights so make sure you add this in your travel budget. We stayed in the Crown Plaza on Madison Ave. There are cheaper hotels further out and other hotels closer to the start finish area. You have to decide if you want to pay for a taxi, a train or parking.

Saturday we visited Navy Pier and walked around the water front. Chicago is a really nice city and we always felt safe walking around. You can expect some beggers and some foul, big city smells on some side streets but over all it was a fun day. UNTILL we got back to the parking lot and were told by the attendant that the fee of $11.00 on the sign didn't apply this weekend and we had to pay $24.00 to park for just a couple of hours! We were pissed. When you add all of our parking fees up (I'll spare you all the details of where we went) We ended up paying $175 in parking fees for the weekend. In my opinion that is a complete rip off! I have lived in Atlanta, GA. , Fort Worth, TX. and now Knoxville, TN. and I have never paid so much to park anywhere.

Sunday RACE DAY. We got up early and walked to the start. The start area was well marked and the start corrals were nicely organized. Plenty of porta-johns everywhere around Grant Park. There were so many porta-johns lined up that people were actually taking pictures of them! LOL...
The race course was clean, scenic and safe. My wife said she felt a bit clausterphobic due to all the people lining the course but I thought it was great! The first 6 miles there was some pushing, flying elbows and people getting tripped but I made if through clean. I was in corall B and my wife was in corral D. Once the course opened up and people spread out I throughly enjoyed the race. The temperature was warmer than expected and the start was marked with yellow caution flags that were later changed to red as I approached mile 20. Some parts of the course were shady in the first half but after that it was virtually all sun. I was thankful to have my hat on. The worst part of the course were the water stations due to the runners completely stopping right in front of people and causing a pile up. Luckily I wear a fuel belt and only had to deal with that sort of thing during the first half of the race. I know this is not something the promoters can do much about but just be prepared and on the look out. The other problem I experienced was with my Garmin 201. I could not get signal for the first 3 miles and then it was very intermittent so the only thing I could rely on was the elapsed time. As the temps continued to warm up I felt my self slowing down. You know that heavy feeling that slowly creeps into your legs..... I was able to keep going but I knew my hopes of a BQ were lost. Despite all the above I finished in 3:43 and wasn't too bummed about it. The finish area was great! Well organized with plenty of food and drinks including beer that I helped my self to twice! (for the carbs of course!) My wife finished in 4:33, short of her goal but she was happy to be done with her first marathon! After the finish and on the way home she had some of the same complaints as me. She didn't like the water stops due to getting gatorade thrown on her at least twice, water spit on her (by accident) but gross either way and she complained about a lot of peoples body odor! LOL... She also didn't like smelling the food cooking at the restraunts along the course.

I would most deffinately run this race again but only if I carpooled with someone to split fuel and parking expenses. I might check into flights for next year instead. My wife said that despite the size of this event it wasn't that intimidating for a first time marathoner. Then she added that she kept running after she got tired and was hurting simply because she was afraid if she stopped she would have to pay someone to park!! LOL....

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