Chicago marathon 2020 cancelation big blow to runners, city's finances

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The cancellation of the 2020 Chicago marathon, which would have been Sunday, isn't just a huge loss for runners but also in revenue for the city.

Rich Zappen was looking forward to big crowds and grand celebration Sunday, which would have been the 64-year-old's 100th marathon. But with the race canceled, he plans to run it anyway, by himself and with a few family and friends spread out on the course to cheer him on.


Zappen lives in west suburban Bensenville, but many of the other 45,000 runners come from all over the world, which normally leads to a huge influx of several hundred million dollars in economic impact in the city. Charity runners also brought in about $27 million for various nonprofits last year. All of that is gone this year.

For many running-related businesses, marathon week is also their biggest week of the year, much of it during the annual marathon expo at McCormick Place. Like everything else, that's gone virtual this year so Fleet Feet Sports is setting up pop-up stores to sell marathon merchandise.


Marathon organizers have put together a virtual experience in place of the real thing, where you can pick your distance and report your results to earn a medal. Randy Burt, 72, already completed his run on a course in his neighborhood to keep up his streak of running Chicago marathons - 43 of them.

A portion of the proceeds from the pop-up stores is going to charity; they are moving daily to different spots near the marathon course. On Sunday, fittingly, they will be in Grant Park near the finish line.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.