Warm temperatures Sunday made running a bit more of a chore for some, but certain not for the male and female winners who both repeated as champions.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is Chicago's premiere race and one of the world's largest marathons. Sunday's date, 10-10-10, was billed as the 'date to motivate,' and the marathon certainly did that. It took about thirty minutes for everyone to get past the start line, and if watching the endless mass of runners didn't motivate others to get off the couch, nothing will.
The whistle blew at 7:30 a.m. in Grant Park, and just like that, the race 45,000 people spent months training for was under way.
The marathon is the dream of a lifetime for some, something to check off their bucket list. For others, it's a way of life. Either way, Sunday's runners had quite a challenge ahead of them.
Michigan native Jason Hartmann was the top American finisher.
"The last four miles were tough and hot and gritty. I just tried to stay focused and used the energy of the crowd to get through," he said.
While it was nowhere near as hot and humid as the 2007 meltdown, Sunday's race was still tough. It was even tougher on those who -- unlike Jason and the rest of the pros-- were on the course for up to seven hours. Sixty-five runners had to be taken to the hospital. Unlike 2007, aid stations were brimming with water and Gatorade this year. Approximately 12,000 volunteers were out making sure everyone stayed hydrated.
"The running community is so wonderful," said marathon finisher Marquese Martin-Hayes. "A lady came and tapped me on the back and said, 'Come on, you can do it.' And that, honestly, was all I needed. I did everything but crawl today."
"It's my first marathon. It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. I thought it would be when my boyfriend proposes, but no, it's this!" finisher Andrea Ovares said.
Runners from all fifty states and no less than 106 countries participated in the race. Known for being a flat, fast and scenic course, Chicago is also popular because of its crowds, and they were out in force today, too, lining every inch of the 26.2 mile route, north, south and west.
"What a cool thing to see, not only our friends, but everybody who is running. It's unbelievable. It's so inspiring," said spectator Reagan Hogerty.
And while every one of the 45,000 runners is equally inspiring, it was a race, and there were winners. This year, both were repeat. Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru and Lilia Shobukhova of Russia were the top male and female finishers.
Just in case anyone is wondering how long it takes an elite athlete to run 26.2 miles, Wanjiru finished in slightly more than 2 hours and 6 minutes, and Lilia Shobukhova ended at 2 hours and 20 minutes.