Among the New York and Boston Marathon, the Chicago Marathon is one of the most popular marathons in the U.S. today. Runners and spectators from all over the world will be in attendance at the big race this weekend including one of our ambassadors, elite distance runner for Saucony Hurricanes, Tina Muir.
Beginning in 1905, the Chicago Marathon (organized first by the Illinois Athletic Club 1905 to 1909, then sponsored by the Chicago Daily News after 1910) was held annually, with significant community and spectator support, until the early 1920s.
The First Chicago Marathon was run on Saturday, September 23, 1905. That first race began in Evanston and finished in front of a standing-room-only paying crowd at Washington Park race track. In a stunning upset, a reported 100,000 or more spectators watched Rhud Metzner come from behind to steal a late-race victory from the favored Louis Marks. With that first race, the Chicago Marathon began an annual run of epic races that continued until the early 1920s on a revised course that largely resembles today's marathon route. Over the years elite fields included Olympic champions, world records were continually sought, and the marathon continued to inspire Chicago communities and spectators until challenges of the early 1920s sidelined the event.
During the mid-1980s, it was named America's Marathon/Chicago and opened up the way for appearance payments. Joan Benoit Samuelson described the Chicago Marathon's of the mid-1980s as "The World's Marathon". The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an open race with no qualifying time to participate.
In the early years the Chicago Marathon was held in August. It has from its inception with 4,200 runners and 2,128 finishers been one of the nation's largest marathons. The 2000 running was second only to New York. The 1979 and 1980 events, however, continued to be gatherings of amateur runners. By 1982, the race finally had sufficient prize money to attract world class athletes. The 1982 was the first with world class times such as the 2:10:59 by Greg Meyer, the last American-born male to win the race. By 1983, the Chicago Marathon had achieved its status as one of America's most important marathons. (Source: Wikipedia)
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