Vitor Agrella da Silveira, MPP Class of 2024
Vitor Agrella da Silveira, MPP Class of 2024

There are many fun and unique experiences to enjoy while living in Chicago. For example, Vitor Agrella da Silveira, MPP Class of 2024, writes about his experience watching his friend run in the Chicago Marathon last fall.

Watching my friend run in the Chicago Marathon this past fall was one of the best experiences I have had in Chicago thus far.

For those unfamiliar, the Chicago Marathon is highly selective: runners generally must meet a time-qualifying standard or are selected through a general lottery—as was my friend's case. The official numbers put registration last fall at 45,000 people. Many runners come from other US states and around the world, like my friend who came from Brazil.

Heading into the McCormick Center Runner's Exposition
Heading into the McCormick Center Runner's Exposition

The marathon experience starts a couple of days before the race. At the McCormick Place Convention Center, contestants attend a runner exposition retrieve their running kit and can choose from a mountain of running supplies such as clothing, energy bars, fitness trackers, etc. Also, the exposition  presents the contestants who have completed all the major marathons in the international runner hall of fame. Finally, people can share the history of who they run for—usually  personal, family, or charitable reasons.

The marathon  takes places in early October, when the weather  is often mild and suitable for running. I was curious when I noticed that the runners had brought their coats to the start line. When the race was about to begin, the runners tossed their coats in piles, where various organizations then collected them to give them to local charities.

View from the sidelines of the chicago marathon
My view from the sidelines of the Chicago Marathon

The course starts and ends at Grant Park in the famous Chicago Loop. In total, the marathon winds through 29 distinctive Chicago neighborhoods, such as Lake View, Little Italy, Pilsen, and Chinatown. Runners from around the world can get a glimpse of the unique cultures and identities that compose the multicultural city of Chicago.

google map's image tracking my friend through the race
Watching my friend in the race on the tracking app

Unlike other marathons, the public can follow the runners almost through the entire track in Chicago. Some friends reported using the "L" (Chicago's electric train system) to see and cheer for their relatives in different spots during their race. You can follow runners using the official Chicago Marathon app, which tracks the contestants as they run. Moreover, runners enjoy having the public along the course. During such a long and demanding race, the runner may feel lower energy and consider giving up at some point. However, the crowd is always encouraging, displaying uplifting signs (I saw one that read  "tap here to get an extra life") that support the runners throughout the entire course.

I followed the race to the finish line, and there was so much excitement and cheering when runners approached the end of the race.  There was live music and people were crying, hugging, and celebrating.

As I get closer to my academic finish line, I look forward to seeing the marathon again!