Chicago Marathon preparations nearly complete

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The pre-race pasta has been consumed and runners are making final preparations for the start of the 37th annual Chicago Marathon.

Forty-five thousand people are registered to run and perhaps one million will line the course to watch. There will be a party atmosphere and a bunch of street closings because of the big race.

It starts in Grant Park at 7:30 Sunday morning, then heads north through Old Town and on to the Lakeview neighborhood. From there it heads south down to Pilsen and Bridgeport and back to Grant Park.

It's one of the busiest nights of the year for Italian Village matre d Tomaso Lara. Italian restaurants all over town are filled with runners eating pasta as they load up on carbs before the race.

That means Lara is on his feet all night, but he gets no rest Saturday. He's also running the marathon.

"It's like double marathon for me," he said. "I'll just get a couple hours of sleep and I'm going to be okay."

The restaurant is filled with runners anxious to get some pasta and get more than a couple hours sleep before the race. Most every one of the runners has a unique story and reason for running.

"Chicago was kind of on the bucket list. It's one of the majors, a lot of people," said runner P.J. Toutant.

The legendary crowds will line the course from Grant Park to Wrigleyville, to Pilsen and Bridgeport and everywhere in between. The city has put up signs to warn drivers not to part along the route and drivers will find roads closed all along the route from early in the morning until mid to late afternoon.

Race director Carey Pinkowski is overseeing his 25th Chicago Marathon and is looking forward to a memorable day.

"Everybody's in very good shape, Mother Nature's going to cooperate and we'll see what happens," he said. "I am excited, this is the fun part."

Pinkowski is speaking to several groups Saturday night, including the largest group of charity runners, Team World Vision, which has raised one point $2 million for clean water in Africa.

"There comes a moment in every race no matter how long it is that you want to quit, and it's about what you're running that's going to keep you going toward that finish line," Rusty Funk said.

Team members are getting their fill of pasta as well Saturday night. Three quarters of these charity runners are first time marathoners.

"There's so many new people coming into the sport and doing it for a variety of different reasons. They're doing it to raise money for charity, they're doing it for their own personal victory," said Dave Zimmer, Fleet Feet Sports.



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