Just returned home from watching the Chicago marathon. I ended up driving to my friends house in the west loop to meet up with her to watch at mile 14 and between mile 16-17. I arrived before our designated meet up time with enough time to see part of the course before 45,000 people burst onto the scene. First impressions were it was set up better than last year. More aid stations, water sprayers and sponges more readily available and earlier on the course than last year, first hydrants opened and spraying. A few minutes passed and the lead car came through to indicate the first of the wheelchair division were about to arrive. So incredibly inspirational to see them. A group that receives too little recognition as far as I am concerned. There was nearly no crowd support as many spectators had not arrived at the later miles yet. Then the elites came through at a blistering pace. I became more than a little choked up when I saw a man who had lost his arms and had to be in a sort of half standing/seated wheelchair but was still able to use his legs running the race. Amazing. My friend came out to join me and we spent the next couple of hours cheering for the runners and calling out words of encouragement to those runners who wore their name on their shirt. I think I saw Tom from Runners Lounge pass and yelled loudly for him! It it was him he was looking great just past the halfway mark. I didn't see anyone else I knew but I'm sure I just missed them. My friends saw 2 of their co-workers and one of the guys we were with jumped in to run with his co-worker. He was in street clothe with a bunch of items in his pockets and had just finished drinking a bloody mary. He was only going to run a couple of miles with his friend who had not trained at all and ended up running 10 miles!!! With no water in this heat! What a friend but seriously not too smart. We heard a few sirens during the race and that made my heart a bit heavy as well as took me back to my experience last year (even though I don't remember the ambulance ride).
The whole time being a spectator all I kept thinking was I can't wait to run next year. Although I was itching to run I'm glad I saw a different side of the race and could support those who made it to the start line. I was glad I could be at a part of the course cheering where there were not a lot of spectators because it made it that much more special experience for me. But next year look out for the girl with "booger" on her shirt (barring any unforeseen circumstances of course) and be sure to yell it out loud :) I can't wait!
Congrats to all the Chicago Marathon finishers! You are all true inspiration and heroes to me!!!