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Bank of America Chicago Marathon returns

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 7, 2011 2:30PM

Photo by fatalysis

If you've see more runners than normal jogging around the city lately, they just might be preparing for this Sunday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon. 45,000 runners have registered for the annual event, which begins and ends in Grant Park. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., the marathon winds for 26.2 miles across the streets of our beautiful city (course map PDF), sending runners through neighborhoods on the north, west and south sides of town.

With its scenic course, flat terrain and a million spectators cheering them on, the Chicago course is popular with novice runners and elite marathoners alike. Two-time defending women's champion Liliya Shobukhova looks to make it a three-peat this year. Unfortunately, men's champion Sammy Wanjiru died in May, so there will be no opportunity to defend his title. Runners like Moses Mosop and Ryan Hall look to finish first and perhaps set a course or world record. Hall ran the Boston Marathon in a time that would have set the American record were that race recognized for official timing, and would also have set the Chicago course record.

Weather has been a factor in recent years, with the 2007 suspended due to heat. This year's forecast high for Sunday is 79 degrees under partly cloudy skies which, while more favorable than some of the recent scorchers, is still a bit warm or optimal running conditions. For spectators, however, the weather is perfect.

The marathon organizers put out their official spectator guide (pdf), but we'll also have some tips for viewing the race later today. Want to track somebody running the race? All runners receive chips that can send you text messages to alert you when they cross various checkpoints during the race. This makes it easier for those trying to catch up with their friends or family on the course to shout words of encouragement or grab peeled off clothing. For those who can't make it out to the race, will also be streaming the marathon online from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m.

To all those running the 2011 Chicago Marathon, we wish you good luck!