44th Bank of America Chicago Marathon attracted runners from all 50 states this year and more than 100 countries.
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Athletes from all around the world trekked the streets of Chicago.
The marathon returned with 40,000 runners on Sunday as neighborhoods all over the city were overtaken by cheering crowds and music.
"It's just so fun to see Chicago come alive," said Katherine Keenan. "It's such a special weekend everyone cheering on."
The two top runners are from Kenya, wrapping up the 26.2 miles with a time of just over two hours.
Supporters spread out all throughout town. It was a special moment for many as they cheered on loved ones.
"It's great," said Joe DiCanio. "All these people around here, and it's a beautiful day, and I'm just so proud of him."
Jennifer Conway braved the chilly morning to cheer on her fiancé.
"It's a little emotional... you get so worked up about the whole thing," Conway said. "It's a bit freezing, so I don't envy them at all, but it's pretty epic and it's definitely something worth bragging about."
She admitted it takes a special kind of person to run this Chicago marathon.
"I think he's insane for doing it, frankly, but you've got to love it," she said.
The marathon is always such a proud moment for this city as runners make their way through 29 different neighborhoods. There was no lack of worldwide representation, with 100 different countries and all 50 states.
"Chicago is nice," said Alyceson Chavez, who is from Michigan and cheered on her cousin. "It's really windy for sure."
It was also a chance to reunite for many locals who took in that marathon atmosphere.
"It's great, and you see so many people you know," Keenan said. "Just being from Chicago, just watching the course ,you get to see so many friends maybe you went to high school with or college... so love cheering people on this weekend."
This is what these runners trained all year for after the pandemic has scaled down the marathon in recent years.
That's something that people were happy to be part of again. Kristen Barnfield has run the marathon before, but cheered on her friends this year.
"It's such a fantastic day to be here. Chicago's amazing and it's showing out really well, so it's a great day," Barnfield said. "You put lots of miles in. You put the hard work in over the whole summer, running up and down the lakefront and then, today is just the payoff and it's incredibly rewarding. I'm so excited for everyone running today. They're going to have a fantastic day."
The influx of people in the city has also been a huge help for local businesses this week.
Some Lakeview residents, however, woke up to find their cars missing on Sunday morning.
Video shows several vehicles being towed and being ticketed ahead of the marathon. A parking ban was put in place, but some drivers didn't obey the signs.
Ahead of the race, people packed into Italian Village Restaurants in the heart of the Loop Saturday night for a massive carb intake.
"We make sure we load up on plenty of pasta, plenty of bread. We know what we're serving today," said Jared Gelvand, Italian Village Restaurants' wine director.
Runners were conserving their energy for Sunday and focusing on the carbs -- lots of carbs.
"Pasta, pretty much," said Jacob Wormald, a runner from New Hampshire.
They were getting fueled up and excited.
"I ran it last year for the first time just to see it and now this year, I'm actually trying to do a really good time," said Daniel Tenayuca, a runner from Algonquin, Illinois.
While for many this isn't their first marathon, it's one they wanted to check off their list.
"This will be my first full marathon. I've done a number of half marathons and other races and other distances, but spent the summer training for this," said Tim Todd, a runner from Kansas City.
Many traveled from around the world to the Second City.
"I've seen the same people from Germany, from Japan come in and we'll recognize them because it's been a year after your thing. It's really special," Gelvand added.
Last year, the race was scaled down because of the pandemic, but this year, it's back in full force with 40,000 runners.
"Last year was a challenge, having to pause the event was heartbreaking. But there's an energy, an excitement," said Carey Pinkowski, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon executive director.
"I was supposed to run it in 2020 and set a new personal record for me, and then it all got canceled. I got injured and had to wait a little while. So we're back in Chicago this year. It's my first Chicago marathon," said Angela Giese, a runner from Minnesota.
"I think getting back and actually being able to run with a lot of people is going to be a really special thing. We haven't been able to do that for a few years, so I'm really looking forward to it," Todd added.
Most of the marathon route has been reopened as of 4 p.m. Sunday, according to a tweet from Chicago OEMC.