I'm a runner. But, I'm not a marathon runner. While I like to log the miles, I have never run 26.2 miles. I have complete and utter respect for each and every runner who takes on the physical and mental challenge. And, even though I have never run the Chicago Marathon (or any marathon), I look forward to it each year. Why? Because I love that its course snakes through a huge part of the city, starting and ending in Grant Park, going north to Lakeview and south to Douglas.
On Sunday, October 13, the 2013 Chicago Marathon will take more than 45,000 runners through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. And, I couldn't be more proud that the city, my city will be on display for the whole world.
Cheering on the City - and the World
For each runner there are dozens of spectators, meaning more than 1.7 million people will have the chance to see Chicago's distinct and dynamic neighborhoods.
While the runners follow the set marathon course, viewers often ride CTA buses or "L" trains going from spot to spot, trying to stay ahead of, and then cheer on, their friends or family members. And, some people just want to be a part of this city-wide international event and cheer on as many runners as possible - without knowing any of their names.
I also enjoy seeing the various groups from different countries coming together to cheer on runners from their home country - like the group that is forming to cheer on French and Francophone marathon runners from a cheering station in Lincoln Park.
Several Chicago Sister Cities International committees are joining with international organizations and foreign consulates to cheer on Chicago Marathon runners from around the world. The cheering stations will have signs in foreign languages, flags and other activities.
It's always wonderful to see groups of cheering fans, proudly waving their country's flags against the gorgeous backdrop of the city of Chicago - our streets, our lakefront, our skyline and our neighborhoods.
A Trip Around Chicago, A Trip Around the World
A trip around Chicago is like taking a virtual trip around the world. Each of the city's neighborhoods celebrates different people, traditions and cultures, and offers distinct restaurants, markets, architecture, street art, and cultural institutions.
Ethnic neighborhoods along this year's Chicago Marathon course include Greektown, Little Italy, Pilsen and Chinatown. Other neighborhoods in the spotlight include the Loop, Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, Lakeview East, Old Town, River North, Near West Side, West Loop, University Village, Bridgeport, South Commons, South Loop and the Prairie District - to name a few.
To me, it's only fitting that our city's neighborhoods play such a big role in such an international event that welcomes people - runners and spectators - from around the world. It's also why I'm thrilled to be able to cheer on each neighborhood as it takes its well-deserved spot on the international stage as thousands of runners blaze a victorious trail along its streets on the way to the ultimate finish line.
Will you be out there running through our city's amazing neighborhoods? Or will you be cheering on the runners and Chicago from the sidelines? Either way, I wish you the best of luck. Enjoy the athletic feat. Enjoy the cultural experience. Enjoy our glorious neighborhoods. Enjoy our dynamic city.
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