In November 1976 at the Metropolitan YMCA on LaSalle St., five key founders of what would eventually become the Bank of America Chicago Marathon met to begin discussions and planning. Those present included Wayne Goeldner, physical education director of the Hyde Park YMCA; Wendell “Wendy” Miller, a partner in a financial advising firm and founder of Midwest Masters Running Club; Bill Robinson, Executive Director of Friends of Parks; Sharon Mier, Director of Women’s Sports at the Loop Center YMCA; and Dr. Noel Nequin, Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Swedish Convenant Hospital. At this meeting, the group decided it was time for a marathon in Chicago.
Talks of a marathon continued, but little was actually done to stage the race. The turning point came in May 1977 when Nequin organized the first mega race in Chicago – the Ravenswood Bank Lakefront 10-Mile Run. The race was a great success, with over 1,000 runners participating, up from an expected 200-300. Michael Bilandic, Chicago’s new Mayor and an avid runner, was invited to the event. Not only did he show up to lend his support, but he and his wife, Heather, also handed out the awards to the winners. The Mayor’s strong support and overwhelming runner participation gave the marathon’s founders, who weren’t quite sure if a marathon could succeed in Chicago, the inspiration they needed to make the city’s first 26.2-mile road race a reality.
Suddenly 1977 was becoming a landmark year for running in Chicago. Several other shorter races were organized for the first time in addition to the Chicago Marathon, including the Chicago Distance Classic with almost 5,000 runners, an unheard number of participants at the time. But running fever did not stop with the new races. After seeing the success of the Lakefront 10, Mayor Bilandic decided to make Chicago “the running capital of the world.” To further show his support, Bilandic turned five miles of an old equestrian path along the lakefront into jogging paths, creating a scenic course for runners that today stretches 18 miles and is more popular than ever. Thus, with all of the new events and opportunities, Chicago’s running community was enjoying an explosion of excitement and participation.
By July 1977, Wendy Miller approached his friend and fellow Chicago businessman Lee Flaherty. Miller convinced Flaherty, a running enthusiast himself, to have his company, Flair Communications, be the official sponsor of the Chicago Marathon. Dr. Nequin and Flaherty then had a lunch meeting at the Drake Hotel with William Daley, son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, about naming the event. Following the meeting, the Daley family gave its blessing to name the race the Mayor Daley Marathon.
Initially set-up with a $5 entry fee and an 8 a.m. start time, the race was scheduled for September 25, 1977, and specific jobs were distributed amongst the founders. Nequin was the medical director; Miller was the race director; Goeldner was in charge of registration; Mier was responsible for organizing 700 volunteers to marshal and officiate the race; and Robinson was treasurer. In addition, Erma Trantor, a friend of Mier’s, was hired to be the race coordinator; Ruth Ratny, a business friend of Flaherty’s, was to publicize the race.
The first ever Mayor Daley Marathon was soon to be a great success. Ads declared it the “people’s race anyone can come and enjoy,” and that was the approach organizers took. Then, on September 25, the hard work of many dedicated people who established the race as something for the entire city, paid off.
September 25, 1977: Dan Cloeter, 2:17:52; Dorothy Doolittle, 2:50:47
More than 4,200 runners turned out for the first Mayor Daley Marathon, making it the largest marathon in the world. Cloeter, from Indiana, and Doolittle, from Texas, battled the crowds to become Chicago’s first winners in a race that 2,128 actually finished. According to Cloeter, who had run in several other marathons, “I just wanted to win.” Doolittle’s victory not only was a personal best time, but also would be her last marathon.
Other competitors included Wesley Paul, an eight-year-old who finished in 3:15:20, setting a World Record in his age group. Jack Donahue was the final person across the Finish Line at 7:09:42. The only glitch of the race occurred when the ceremonial starter’s cannon misfired into the crowd, injuring two spectators. Ironically, the two burned were the wife and daughter of Wayne Goeldner, an original race founder. Despite the accident, the Marathon ran very smoothly and otherwise was an event for the whole city to enjoy.
September 24, 1978: Mark Stanforth, 2:19:20; Lynae Larson, 2:59:25
Organizing the second Chicago Marathon was not an easy task. Controversy surrounding the starting time and entry fee developed, leaving founders divided. On one side were those who wanted a $10 entry fee and a noon kick-off. The later start time would draw more spectators and publicity, while also allowing out-of-town participants more travel time. On the other side were those who felt $10 was too expensive and that a noon starting time could physically injure runners, especially the slower participants who would be running in the heat of the afternoon. They also felt that organizers were putting the interest of the media before that of the runners. While the $10 entry fee remained, a compromise of a 10:30 a.m. start time was finally reached. (In November 1977, Dr. Nequin, along with Trantor, Mier and other protesters, ended their involvement and formed the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) to manage races for runners’ protection.)
On the day of the race, thousands of participants wore black armbands in protest of the later start time. The Marathon quickly became a dual competition – the race against time and the battle against the heat. With lakefront temperatures reaching a high of 85 degrees, nearly 300 runners were treated for blisters or heat exhaustion, while 10 more were taken to local hospitals for heat problems and dehydration. But the warm temperatures couldn’t stop Arizona’s Stanforth or South Dakota’s Larson. Both conquered the heat to claim victory over the other 5,200 starters, 4,053 of whom actually finished the race. Despite temperature problems, the Marathon ran smoothly. For the first time in U.S. history a dual start was used, the two points a block apart, which helped spread the runners out. Plenty of water was available to help quench thirst, and most agreed that the second Chicago Marathon was a success.
October 21, 1979: Dan Cloeter, 2:23:20; Laura Michalek, 3:15:45
After miserable running weather the previous year, race organizers attempted to avoid similar conditions by pushing the Marathon back to October. Despite these efforts, temperatures were once again against runners’ favor as 3,700 race starters battled the 77-degree heat, 81 percent humidity and 20 mph wind gusts along the lakefront. Due to the challenging conditions, only 2,869 runners actually finished the race. Cloeter, the 1977 winner, returned to Chicago to claim the men’s victory. Shortly after winning, he collapsed with severe dehydration. Nancy Reid and Donna Simmons illegally “dropped in” to place first and second for the women, but were disqualified when it was proven that they did not run the entire race. This gave the victory to 15-year-old Laura Michalek of Berwyn, IL, the youngest winner in Chicago Marathon history. Also for the record book, both the men’s and women’s times are still Chicago’s slowest winning times. Beatrice Foods sponsored the race for the first time, providing their Tropicana orange juice and Dannon yogurt to exhausted runners at the finish line.
September 28, 1980: Frank Richardson, 2:14:04; Sue Peterson, 2:45:03
With temperatures in the low 60s, more than 4,600 runners turned out for a race in ideal conditions. Richardson, a newlywed of just 49 days from Iowa, and Peterson, a Californian who crossed the finish line alongside her husband Pete, claimed victories with the fastest winning times Chicago had seen to date. Ida Mintz, 74, finished the race with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson in 4:45, claiming the title of the world’s oldest female marathoner. Jane Schiff was the Chicago Marathon’s first unofficial wheelchair winner in Chicago’s history with a time of 3:02:38. Proceeds of the 1980 race went to the Chicago Boys Club.
September 27, 1981: Phil Coppess, 2:16:13; Tina Gandy, 2:49:39
While most runners were sleeping, two participants began the Marathon at 2 a.m. on Sunday in order to finish the entire 26.2-mile course by the 3:30 p.m. deadline…walking. At the regular starting time, another 5,400 joined them, ages 7 to 78 years old, including 12 corporate teams, two wheelchair entrants and one blind runner. With 1,800 volunteers helping out along the way and 25,000 spectators, Iowa’s Coppess, running his third marathon, and Gandy, a Minnesotan, raced against 25 mph winds to win. Other victories included 57-year-old Helen Dick, who set an age group record with her time of 3:12.
September 26, 1982: Greg Meyer, 2:10:59; Nancy Conz, 2:33:23
Over 30 world-class runners from eight different nations were among the 6,014 racers, 4,642 of whom finished, in the sixth annual Chicago Marathon. But it was Americans Meyer and Conz, both from Massachusetts, who won, beating the 1980 course records by 3 and 12 minutes, respectively. Not only did they take home the thrill of victory, but also the Marathon’s first prize money checks ($12,000 for each out of a $77,000 purse).
October 16, 1983: Joseph Nzau, 2:09:44; Rosa Mota, 2:31:12
Almost 7,000 runners came out for what would be the most competitive race Chicago had ever seen. With only a few yards left in the 26-mile, 385-yard course, Nzau of Kenya surged ahead and out-leaned Hugh Jones of Great Britain to win the race by half a second. Nzau crossed the line in 2:09:44.3 and Jones in 2:09:44.8. In the women’s competition, Mota of Portugal took over the lead with one mile left, beating Anne Audain of New Zealand, and setting a new course record. Although the race was called “America’s Marathon,” $113,000 out of the $135,000 prize purse went to 15 men and women from 11 foreign countries. A record 250,000 Chicagoans cheered participants on, helping 5,237 mostly local runners make it to the finish.
October 21, 1984: Steve Jones, 2:08:05; Rosa Mota, 2:26:01
Despite cold temperatures and a steady downpour of rain, nearly 8,000 runners started the race, including 70 world-class runners; both totals were records. Great Britain’s Jones not only claimed victory, but also set a World Record time in the men’s race. According to Jones, “I had no idea what kind of pace I was running and no idea how fast they were running. I got to 24 and a half and 25 and the press truck left to go to the finish line. A writer from London shouted that if I kept it under five-minute pace, I had a chance for the record. I was confused and thought he meant a course record!” While defending her title, Mota also broke the women’s course record she set the previous year. For their wins, Jones and Mota took home $35,000 each out of the $250,000 purse. This year’s race also marked the first official Wheelchair competition, with five men and one woman competing. Robert Fitch from East Lansing, MI took the men’s title in 2:35:06 while Jonnie Baylark from Bellwood, IL claimed the women’s in 3:29:10.
Among lesser-known victories, however, was the finish of Ken Campbell. On March 22, 1983, Campbell was in a car collision with a gasoline tanker, leaving burns on over 70 percent of his body. While on what was supposed to be his deathbed, Campbell was told that he would never walk again. Miraculously, Campbell slowly regained his strength, his ability to walk, and eventually was able to run. Days before the Marathon, the race’s medical director wrote a letter to Ken discouraging him from competing because of possible harm to his skin grafts and scar tissues. Against all odds, Campbell finished the Marathon in 3:37.
October 20, 1985: Steve Jones, 2:07:13; Joan Benoit Samuelson, 2:21:21
This year’s race turned out the largest number of runners Chicago had seen to date, and the fastest. Nearly 10,000 competed as Jones and Benoit Samuelson claimed victory. Jones’ goal was to set another World Record, but he missed Carlos Lopes’ World Record by just one second. His victory earned him $35,000 for winning, $10,000 for setting the new course record and $13,000 in time bonuses for running under 2:08. The women’s competition featured one of the top fields ever assembled, with the then second, fourth and fifth fastest times in the world being set. Ingrid Kristiansen, the World Record holder; Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Olympic champion; and Rosa Mota, the Olympic bronze medalist and Chicago’s defending champion, battled for victory. Not only did Benoit Samuelson win (missing Kristiansen’s World Record by just 15 seconds), but she also set the American and course records.
October 26, 1986: Toshihiko Seko, 2:08:27; Ingrid Kristiansen, 2:27:08
The 10th Chicago Marathon brought great racing weather. Despite the 90 percent humidity, temperatures remained in the upper 50s, providing excellent conditions for the 12,000 runners who started the race. Japan’s Seko took the lead after 22 miles and went on to win the race. The Norwegian, Ingrid Kristiansen, dominated the women’s competition by more than two minutes. Both winners received $40,000 for their victories. However, the rest of the 8,173 runners who finished did not go home empty-handed. Due to high popularity the previous year, race officials doubled the number of massage tables and therapists, giving more than 500 racers “special treatment” for their tired muscles.
1987: Due to a loss in sponsorship, there was no Marathon this year. However, a half-marathon was organized to provide Chicago’s runners with a low-budget alternative. Taster’s Choice was the sponsor of the event called the Columbian Select Half-Marathon. Steve Jones, by now a hero in Chicago, returned to claim victory on October 25 in 1:04:20. Kim Ballentine of Brentwood, MO, won the women’s division in 1:18:20.
October 30, 1988: Alejandro Cruz, 2:08:57; Lisa Weidenbach, 2:29:17
This year marked the return of the Marathon to Chicago, which witnessed unseasonably cold weather. As temperatures remained in the 30s, runners faced problems with circulation, metabolism, hypothermia and muscle tightness. With 8,700 runners registered for the Marathon, now sponsored by Old Style, the chilly conditions could not stop Cruz and Weidenbach from claiming victory over the 5,795 finishers. Cruz, a native of Mexico, broke his country’s record with his personal best of 2:08:57. Weidenbach, of Seattle, WA, became just the fifth American woman to run a marathon in less than 2:30 with her personal best time of 2:29:17. Cruz and Weidenbach took home a then record $50,000 each out of the $350,000 total purse for their victories.
October 29, 1989: Paul Davis-Hale, 2:11:25; Lisa Weidenbach, 2:28:15
Along with the other 8,529 runners who started the race, and in stark contrast to the previous year, Davis-Hale and Weidenbach battled unseasonably warm temperatures, 64 percent humidity and windy conditions that accompanied the 12th Chicago Marathon. Great Britain’s Davis-Hale won the race in 2:11:25, the slowest winning men’s time since 1981. Weidenbach, while breaking her personal best time, became Chicago’s second repeat women’s champion. Both champions walked away with $50,000 for winning the race. The oldest competitor in the race was 84-year-old Ida Mintz, who finished in 6:07. In the wheelchair competition, America’s Scot Hollonbeck won for the men in 1:45:30, and Ann Cody Morris won for the women in 1:58:51.
October 28, 1990: Martin Pitayo, 2:09:41; Aurora Cunha, 2:30:11
As a result of the hard work of new Race Director Carey Pinkowski, this race was a big success. Pinkowski was the youngest director of any U.S. marathon. More important than his effective management, however, was that Pinkowski brought the Marathon together with the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). As a result, he was able to get local runners and running clubs more involved than ever in the race, especially as volunteers. On race day, the finish could not have been more exciting. The men’s leaders, Mexico’s Martin Pitayo and Poland’s Antoni Niemczak ran the final 10 miles of the race together. At the last possible moment, Pitayo surged ahead to beat Niemczak by one step, making his 0.3 second victory the closest ever in American marathon history. Meanwhile, in her first U.S. marathon appearance, Portugal’s Aurora Cunha took the women’s victory with her personal best time of 2:30:11. Pitayo and Cunha claimed $30,000 each out of the $250,000 total purse for their victories. The winners were not the only stars of the day. Local resident Ann Clark enjoyed celebrity status as spectators applauded her finish and asked her to pose with them in pictures. The 81-year-old from Carol Stream, IL, who didn’t take up running until age 64, finished in 5:46.
October 27, 1991: Joseildo Rocha, 2:14:33; Midde Hamrin-Senorski, 2:36:2
The 14th Chicago Marathon did not start on a positive note. The loss of another title sponsor drastically reduced the prize money for winners to $7,500, compared to $30,000 the previous year. Around 7,500 started the race, but only 5,908 actually finished. Thus, even with ideal racing conditions, Rocha of Brazil and Hamrin-Senorski of Sweden finished with the slowest winning times since 1981 for both men and women. The oldest male competitor, 75-year-old Art McLendon, made his 11th race appearance, finishing in seven hours. Ann Walters won the women’s wheelchair competition in 1:53:33, a streak she continued for the next six years through 1996. No other athlete has won six consecutive Chicago Marathon races.
October 25, 1992: Jose Cesar De Souza, 2:16:14; Linda Somers, 2:37:41
Under perfect running conditions, 8,214 runners competed in this year’s Chicago Marathon. With a lack of depth of world-class runners, Chicago’s 15th Marathon was difficult to predict. DeSouza, with his unmatchable 5:11 per mile pace, won the men’s competition to become the second consecutive champion from Brazil. Somers of Pleasant Hill, CA, set a personal best, winning the women’s competition by a two-minute margin. She would later represent the U.S. in the Marathon at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. However, both winning times were again the slowest since 1981. DeSouza and Somers each walked away with $7,500 for their victories. In the wheelchair competition, Ann Walters, uncontested, set a new course record of 1:44:29, a record that still stands today.
October 31, 1993: Luiz Antonio Dos Santos, 2:13:14; Ritva Lemettinen, 2:33:18
Snowfall, 34-degree temperatures and 12-degree wind chills greeted the 6,941 runners in the 16th Chicago Marathon on Halloween (the latest race date in Chicago’s history). As the snow along the lakeshore pelted runners in the face, some dropped out with hypothermia. With prize money at $20,000 for the first men’s and women’s finishers, Dos Santos of Brazil and Lemettinen of Finland trudged through the wintry conditions to claim victory with the fastest winning times since 1990. Dos Santos became the third straight Brazilian man to win while Lemettinen was briefly disqualified with charges of running behind two male pacers who blocked the wind from her path, a violation of USA Track & Field Rule 66. The decision was later overturned due to unclear wording of Rule 66, and her victory was restored. Ann Walters won the women’s wheelchair competition, continuing the streak she started in 1991. This year marked her easiest victory in 1:57:34; she was the only female competitor.
October 30, 1994: Luiz Antonio Dos Santos, 2:11:16; Kristy Johnston, 2:31:34
A new title sponsor and the accompanying financial boost from LaSalle Bank put a freshly christened “LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon” back among the world’s top races, a position not seen since 1986. Over 10,000 runners competed in cool and cloudy weather to make the 17th Chicago Marathon a spectacular event. Dos Santos successfully defended his title with a time of 2:11:16. Johnston, a native of Coos Bay, OR, out-battled the women’s competition to finish in 2:31:34. After claiming victory, she collapsed into Race Director Carey Pinkowski’s arms at the finish line. Both Dos Santos and Johnston took home $30,000 out of the $200,000 total purse for their victories.
October 15, 1995: Eamonn Martin, 2:11:18; Ritva Lemettinen, 2:28:27
A brisk morning and gusty winds greeted the 10,802 participants in the 18th running of the Chicago Marathon. The winds quickly died down, but the men’s competition remained a strategic one. It was very close throughout as Martin of Great Britain bolted past Carlos Bautista of Mexico in the last 200 meters to claim victory by just three seconds. The women’s race was not nearly as tight. 1993 women’s winner Lemettinen returned to Chicago and took the lead in the first two miles of the race. With only 35 men finishing before her, Lemettinen claimed her second Chicago title in 2:28:27, beating her personal best time by 51 seconds. Martin and Lemettinen pocketed $35,000 of the $250,000 total purse for their victories. Other finishers included 75-year-old Warren Utes of Park Forest, IL, who set his seventh national age group record with his time of 3:18:07. In the wheelchair competition, James Briggs of Champaign, IL, beat Scott Hollonbeck, also of Champaign, by one second, claiming victory in 1:37:12. Ann Walters, another Champaign resident, kept her streak alive and won the women’s competition in 1:57:27.
October 20, 1996: Paul Evans, 2:08:52; Marian Sutton, 2:30:41
Almost 11,000 runners enjoyed ideal weather conditions for the 19th running of the Chicago Marathon. With a 4:54 minute per mile pace, Englishman Paul Evans won the men’s competition in 2:08:52, the eighth fastest time in the world for 1996. Sutton, also of Great Britain, won the women’s race in 2:30:41, after trailing American Kristy Johnston for the first 25 miles. Evans and Sutton were both awarded $40,000 for their victories. Americans still fared well as Jerry Lawson (2:10:04) and Johnston (2:31:06) both finished second, signaling a resurgence in American distance running.
Jacob Heilveil won the men’s wheelchair competition in 1:39:57 while Ann Walters won the women’s race for the sixth year in a row in 1:52:13. Marathon organizers were not only pleased with the race results, but also a long-term agreement with the LaSalle Bank ensured financial backing and stability for the race. With such corporate support, the Marathon finally had the foundation to be a world-class event for years to come. Furthermore, the Marathon and the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA), formed in 1978 partly as a protest movement, had long since settled their differences. By 1996, CARA was running its highly successful Marathon training program, with nearly 700 participants at four different locations throughout the Chicagoland area.
October 19, 1997: Khalid Khannouchi, 2:07:10; Marian Sutton, 2:29:03
The 20th Anniversary LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon was truly a record-breaking event. Perfect weather conditions and an unprecedented 650,000 spectators welcomed a record 16,372 registrants, 14,322 of whom finished. In addition, this year’s race showed a new diversity, with all 50 states and 47 countries represented. The event awarded $300,000 in prize money and an additional $197,000 in time bonuses. Khannouchi, a Moroccan based in Brooklyn, NY, and hoping to become a U.S. citizen, came to Chicago to make his marathon debut. Not only did his 2:07:10 give him the victory, but he also set course, debut and North American records while running the fourth fastest marathon time ever. Khannouchi took home the $50,000 first prize, plus an additional $50,000 bonus for his sub-2:07:30 performance.
American men fared well as Jerry Lawson of Jacksonville, FL, placed seventh in 2:09:35, just outside of the American Record. Also, Todd Williams of Knoxville, TN, placed 10th in 2:11:17, the second best American debut time ever. In all, five men cracked 2:09 and eight finished under 2:10. Great Britain’s Sutton returned to Chicago as the women’s defending champion to claim victory again. After battling a messy nosebleed beginning at mile 20, Sutton made an impressive finish with a personal best of 2:29:03. She received $50,000 plus a $4,000 bonus for her sub-2:30. In the wheelchair competition, Saul Mendoza of Snellville, GA, and Candace Cable of Truckee, CA, won with their times of 1:37:42 and 1:57:32, respectively. This year’s Marathon also took a big step in expanding its international field, with 1,074 foreign athletes competing, a 202 percent increase over 1996.
October 11, 1998: Ondoro Osoro, 2:06:54; Joyce Chepchumba, 2:23:57
Records were the order of the day once again at the 21st Chicago Marathon with new high marks set for runners (20,063 registrants) and spectators (700,000) under beautiful weather conditions (50s and calm). For only the first time in marathon history four men with personal bests under 2:08:00 were at the start line: defending champ Khalid Khannouchi from Morocco, Kenyans Moses Tanui and Elijah Lagat and South Africa’s Gert Thys. Experience proved fruitless as a marathon rookie stunned the field and the world.
Newcomer Ondoro Osoro of Kenya emerged victorious from the pack, running one of the fastest marathons in history. Khannouchi had a comfortable lead after a surge at mile 21, but ligament damage in his left foot (suffered just two weeks earlier), compounded by a cramping calf, spelled his doom as Osoro surged past with less than a mile to go. Khannouchi held on for second (2:07:19), with Thys (2:07:45) and Homewood, Illinois-based Kenyan Joseph Kahugu (2:07:59) close behind. Osoro set course, world debut, North American and Kenyan national records with the then third fastest performance in marathon history. He earned $105,000 ($55,000 for first and a $50,000 time bonus).
In the women’s race, South Africans Colleen De Reuck and Elana Meyer pushed the pace early with Joan Benoit Samuelson’s course record of 2:21:21 in sight. The quick pace proved too much, however, as patient Kenyan Joyce Chepchumba stormed past Meyer at mile 19, then De Reuck at mile 22 to win in an impressive 2:23:57, 1998’s fourth fastest women’s time and 15th fastest ever. Chepchumba pocketed $85,000 ($55,000 for the win and a $30,000 time bonus). Defending champ Marian Sutton never found her groove, finishing 10th in 2:35:41.
Race organizers debuted the ChampionChip timing system to ensure exact timing for every runner at the start, half-marathon and finish. The 17,731 starters (now an exact count thanks to the Chip) and 17,204 finishers (a 97 percent completion rate), including 40 wheelchair finishers, were all new Chicago records.
October 24, 1999: Khalid Khannouchi, 2:05:42; Joyce Chepchumba, 2:25:59
Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better: a World Record for the men, a photo finish for the women and a monster field. Chicago had it all on this chilly (mid 30s at the start) yet sunny October morning. Kenya’s Moses Tanui had a 26-second lead on the pack by mile 20 and stretched that to 33 seconds by mile 21 when Khalid Khannouchi took over the second position. From that point on, it was a two-man race with Khannouchi effectively reeling in Tanui. As Tanui grabbed fluid at the elite station at the 40K mark, Khannouchi flew by him and was chasing only the record book. The men’s leaders had already been on World Record pace most of the race, but Khannouchi had switched into another gear, finishing in an incredible 2:05:42, the first man ever under 2:06, and 23 seconds ahead of Ronaldo da Costa’s old World Record. Tanui trailed him in and just missed the old world mark by 11 seconds (2:06:16), still good for the third fastest marathon ever run. Khannouchi collected $65,000 for the win, a $100,000 bonus and a new Volkswagen Beetle for breaking the World Record. American David Morris, an Alaskan native who had been training and racing in Japan, put forth an impressive run of 2:09:32. He finished fourth behind defending champ Ondoro Osoro (2:08:00).
The 1998 winner, Chepchumba, headed the deep women’s race. Stunned when she tripped near mile 10 (skinning her left knee, hip and both elbows), she rose to her feet, regained her composure and slowly reeled the lead pack back in. In the last several miles the race boiled down to her and fellow Kenyan Margaret Okayo. They would come down the final stretch on Columbus Dr. side by side, with Chepchumba’s track speed making the difference, winning by less than one step (2:25:59 to 2:26:00) and earning $80,000 plus a $15,000 time bonus. In all, $715,200 of prize money was awarded – the largest payout in Marathon history.
In all, an incredible 29,256 Marathoners registered, with 25,145 starters and 24,654 finishers. Runners representing all 50 states, plus 2,241 international runners from a record 80 countries, were cheered on by an estimated 820,000 spectators.
October 22, 2000: Khalid Khannouchi, 2:07:01; Catherine Ndereba, 2:21:33
Khalid Khannouchi, in another display of marathoning magnificence, won his third Chicago Marathon in 2:07:01. Khannouchi set the American Record after being disappointed at not being able to represent the U.S. in Sydney Olympics earlier that year.
In nearly ideal conditions, Khannouchi beat a strong field including Moses Tanui and three other Kenyans: Fred Kiprop, Josephat Kiprono and Peter Githuka. Kenyans finished in the next five places, Kiprono finishing 28 seconds behind Khannouchi. Then it was Tanui, Githuka, Kiprop and William Kiplagat. It was also a good day for the American men as eight placed in the top 20, with notable performances by Eric Mack (2:12:42 in his debut), Josh Cox (2:13:55), Peter De la Cerda (2:16:14) and Gary Stolz (2:17:33).
Catherine Ndereba joined Ingrid Kristiansen (1986) as the only women to win Boston and Chicago in the same year. Ndereba’s winning time (2:21:33) was the fastest time in 2000. Ndereba shadowed Kenyan compatriot Lornah Kiplagat after closing down an early gap of 15 seconds, finally taking the lead in the 23rd mile. Kiplagat hung on for a personal best 2:22:36, the fastest non-winning time in history. Americans Libbie Hickman, Christine Junkermann and Kristy Johnston ran together for much of the race before Hickman prevailed as the first American in 2:32:09.
A record 27,956 finishers made this race the fourth-biggest marathon in history.
October 7, 2001: Ben Kimondiu, 2:08:52; Catherine Ndereba, 2:18:47
The 2001 Chicago Marathon was another historic race – a record number of runners, more than 950,000 spectators, a pacer surprising all by winning and a new women’s World Record. In 2001, registration reached a record 37,500 registrants.
Catherine Ndereba ran the race of her life, producing a new women’s World Record with a stunning time of 2:18:47. After a slow start and an early challenge by friend and fellow Kenyan, Lornah Kiplagat, she ran alone most of the second half of the race. Ndereba put the World Record well within her sights when she ran miles 23 and 24 in 5:12 and 5:09 respectively. Her performance, the first ever sub-2:19 marathon run by a woman, lowered the World Record by 59-seconds, set only a week before in Berlin.
In one of the most stunning upsets in Chicago Marathon history, Ben Kimondiu – a pacesetter hired to push a fast pace for the first half of the race – decided to stay in the race and won in impressive fashion, out-kicking heavily favored Paul Tergat in 2:08:52. It was the first and only time in Chicago’s history that a pacer led from start to finish. Rod DeHaven was the fastest American, placing sixth with a personal best time of 2:11:40.
October 13, 2002: Khalid Khannouchi, 2:05:56; Paula Radcliffe, 2:17:18
The 25th Anniversary of the Chicago Marathon was simply unforgettable – a beautiful day with a record number of finishers, nearly a million spectators, a new women’s World Record and the crowning of Chicago’s first four-time male winner.
Paula Radcliffe capped off her phenomenal year by shattering the World Record with a stunning 2:17:18 performance. Against a superior field, including defending champion and former World Record holder Catherine Ndereba, Radcliffe took control of the race for good after the half-way mark when she clocked mile splits of 5:08, 5:11 and 5:06 from miles 17 thorough 19. She ran alone and stayed strong during the final stretch up Lake Shore Dr. to knock off an amazing 89 seconds from the World Record which Ndereba set a year earlier.
After a one-year absence, Khalid Khannouchi returned to Chicago to win his fourth Chicago Marathon. Competing in the most impressive elite field in the Marathon’s 25-year history, Khannouchi went head-to-head with Paul Tergat, defending champion Ben Kimondiu, and two-time London Marathon champion Abdelkhader El Mouaziz. But it was Toshinari Takaoka who would provide Khannouchi with his biggest challenge as the Japanese 10,000m champion broke out from the pack at mile 19 to take a 21 second lead at mile 23. Khannouchi then launched a tremendous kick and in dramatic fashion, caught Takaoka by mile 25 and passed him at McCormick Place. After taking the lead Khannouchi kept his furious pace over the last two-and-a-half miles to win in 2:05:56, becoming the first marathoner with three sub-2:06 performances to his credit.
October 12, 2003: Evans Rutto, 2:05:50; Svetlana Zakharova, 2:23:07
The 2003 Chicago Marathon was up for grabs with four-time champion Khalid Khannouchi out of the field due to injury. Kenyan Evans Rutto heard the call and took on his first 26.2-miler in Chicago. In a seemingly effortless performance, Rutto not only took home the victory but the debut marathon record in 2:05:50. Rutto’s time marked the sixth fastest marathon ever run, only eight seconds behind Khalid Khannouchi’s course record. The women’s victory went to veteran runner Svetlana Zakharova of Russia. Zakharova trailed behind Constantina Tomescu-Dita until mile 25, where she surged ahead to win in 2:23:07.
October 10, 2004: Evans Rutto, 2:06:16; Constantina Tomescu-Dita, 2:23:45
On the sunny Sunday morning of October 10, Evans Rutto of Kenya and Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania charged to victory in the 27th running of the event. Their world-class runs made the city proud on a day when 33,125 participants from 121 countries made it to the finish line on Columbus Dr.
The slender Rutto, who had not come just to defend his 2003 title but to break the World Record, got the victory in an excellent time of 2:06:16 seconds, but was left to wonder what could have happened if the wind had not kicked up. As he fought the gusts over the final miles, it as a lesson in “take what you can get.” While he had hoped to erase the World Record of 2:04:55, set by Kenyan Paul Tergat at Berlin in 2003, the wind was the wild card on a day he had been dealt an otherwise perfect hand. Still, Rutto notched the fourth fastest winning time in Chicago history, and the second fastest marathon in 2004. And the victory kept the 26-year-old perfect at 26.2 miles. He ended the day three-for-three, having also won the London Marathon in April.
For Tomescu-Dita, it was a case of “catch me if you can.” It was a strategy that had not worked for her in the past, but on this morning, the Romanian ruled the road, start to finish. Looking back five times from the corner of Michigan Ave. and Roosevelt Rd. to the finish on Columbus Dr., she was overcome with emotion as she realized she would win her first major marathon title in a time of 2:23:45, just 10 seconds off her personal best.
October 9, 2005: Felix Limo, 2:07:02; Deena Kastor, 2:21:25
The 2005 Chicago Marathon was a world-class racing event as young champion Felix Limo defeated a deep men’s field, and U.S. record holder Deena Kastor claimed victory in a neck-and-neck race against returning 2004 champion Constantina Tomescu-Dita.
It was a tactical battle from the start as the men’s field settled in for a cautious 15:35 split in the first 5K. The lead pack found itself spread 11 athletes-wide across Ashland Ave. about 7.5 miles from the finish. Defending champion Evans Rutto kicked ahead of the elite group at mile 20, but painful blisters inhibited his ability to maintain the lead and earn a third consecutive victory on the familiar course. Limo gauged the final players and accelerated at 40K to take the lead in a sprint that went uncontested. Limo stopped the clock at 2:07:02 in an impressive victory over a championship field. Ben Maiyo finished seven seconds behind Limo in 2:07:09, followed by Daniel Njenga, Evans Rutto, and Patrick Ivuti, all finishing within 44 seconds of Limo to set an all-time top-five finishers course record.
In the women’s race, Kastor snatched the lead from Tomescu-Dita shortly after the first 5K and led the defending champion at sub-2:20 pace through the remaining 23 miles. Tomescu-Dita kept a short leash on Kastor through 25K before the aggressive American shifted gears and pushed to a 40-second lead with seven miles remaining. Kastor’s body painfully retaliated to the pressures of the fast pace, however, and Tomescu-Dita steadily edged her way back into the race. But Tomescu-Dita’s kick was not strong enough to catch Kastor as she crossed the finish line just five seconds ahead of the Romanian record-holder. The win was Kastor’s first in a big-city marathon, and the third fastest time ever run by an American woman. Tomescu-Dita improved her personal best by one minute and 20 seconds, and reset her national record by the same margin.
October 22, 2006: Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, 2:07:35; Berhane Adere, 2:20:42
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN) outsprinted Daniel Njenga (KEN) to win an exciting race which presented weather challenges of low temperatures, gusty winds and chilling rain. The race saw Cheruiyot, Njenga, fellow Kenyans Jimmy Muindi and Robert Cheboror, and American Abdi Abdirahman separate themselves from a pack of 12 near the 19-mile mark. By mile 25, it was just Cheruiyot and Njenga racing for the title. After setting his eyes on the prize following a 2004 runner-up finish and 2005 third-place finish, Njenga challenged Cheruiyot in the final sprint on Columbus Dr. to finish in second place once again. On his approach to the finish line, Cheruiyot slipped and fell just before crossing the tape. On official review, the Kenyan’s torso had crossed the plane securing his second consecutive win in a World Marathon Major race.
After leading the women’s race at a blazing world record pace in the first half, returning runner-up Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROU) found herself faltering in the second half as the competition remained steady. Berhane Adere (ETH) and Galina Bogomolova (RUS) took advantage of the leader’s drop-off, closing the gap and overtaking her in the 22nd mile. Adere’s long strides against Bogomolova’s quicker steps proved stronger as she edged ahead and took the win. Both Adere and Bogomolova set new national records for Ethiopia and Russia, respectively, as did third and fourth place finishers Benita Johnson (AUS) and Madia Perez (MEX).
October 7, 2007: Patrick Ivuti, 2:11:11; Berhane Adere, 2:33:49
The 30th anniversary race was historic in many regards. Both the men’s victory by Patrick Ivuti (KEN) and women’s repeat championship by Berhane Adere (ETH) undoubtedly rank among the most exciting finishes in marathon history. After a neck-and-neck sprint down Columbus Dr. between Ivuti and Moroccan Jaouad Gharib, Ivuti made a final surge, pushing his chest forward to break the tape only hundredths of a second before his opponent. Moments later, Adere surprised Romanian Adriana Pirtea in the final stretch by strategically positioning herself out of Pirtea’s peripheral vision and sprinting up the outside to steal the victory from Pirtea’s grasp. Thinking she was in the final stretch of certain victory, Pirtea was in the midst of pumping her arms to the crowd when she spotted Adere much too late to match her stride. In the wheelchair race, Australia’s Kurt Fearnley set a new course record with his speedy 1:28:06, just one second ahead of 2005 champion Krige Schabort, and Amanda McGrory defeated her University of Illinois teammate for the women’s title.
The elite athletes as well as the mass of 36,000-plus runners were challenged by historic heat on the streets of Chicago. Temperatures soaring into the high 80s combined with high humidity forced organizers to halt the race for the first time in history. Approximately three and a half hours after the official start, runners were rerouted to Grant Park and instructed to stop running as the heat was too intense to ensure runner safety. As a result, while the race welcomed its largest field to the start line (36,867), only 25,534 were able to officially finish the race.
On October 1, only six days before the race, Bank of America completed its acquisition of LaSalle Bank and thereby its future involvement with the historic Marathon. The 30th anniversary closed a storied chapter in the race’s history, ending its 14-year run as The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, a time during which it experienced tremendous growth in many areas including popularity among runners, civic and community support and international recognition.
October 12, 2008: Evans Cheruiyot, 2:06:25; Lidiya Grigoryeva, 2:27:17
With Bank of America at the helm as the new title sponsor, and Nike as the new footwear and merchandise sponsor, the 2008 race attracted 45,000 participants and closed registration in less than three months. With another year of hot temperatures predicted on race day almost 33,000 runners started the race and 31,344 recorded official finish times. 2008 witnessed several new changes, including a separate start for the men’s and women’s elite field (starting five minutes before the Open field), an increase in Aid Stations from 15 to 20 and the first-ever hand cycle division as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon welcomed the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans into the field.
With star-studded fields on both the men’s and women’s sides, the men’s race went out in a blistering pace, at one point threatening to take down Khalid Khannouchi’s course record. The early pace shattered most of the field by 25K, leaving Kenyans Evans Cheruiyot and David Mandago to battle it out in a two-man race. After another six miles spent running shoulder to shoulder, Cheruiyot, running in just his second marathon, pulled away and finished in the eighth fastest time ever run in Chicago (2:06:25), an amazing feat considering the warm temperatures.
The women’s race went out much more conservatively, with the lead pack moving at a pedestrian pace nearly 15 minutes off course record pace. Shortly after the halfway point, Russians Lidiya Grigoryeva and Alevtina Biktimirova took command of the race and broke from a large pack of women led by American Paige Higgins. Grigoryeva and Biktimiorva matched each other’s strides until mile 21, when Grigoryeva emerged as the clear victor (2:27:17). The wheelchair races witnessed Australian Kurt Fearnley and American Amanda McGrory repeat as champions.
October 11, 2009: Sammy Wanjiru, 2:05:41; Liliya Shobukhova, 2:25:56
The 2009 race set a number of new benchmarks, among them a record number of finishers (33,703), a record number of charity runners (8,500) and dollars raised ($10-plus million), a record number of spectators (1.7 million), and a new course record (2:05:41).
In a welcome departure from the past two years, race day temperatures were in the low 30’s, and the stage was set for a World Record attempt by Olympic Marathon gold medalist and defending London Marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya. With the help of pacemakers, 22-year-old Wanjiru challenged Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:03:59 with a blistering first half run in 1:02:01. Fellow Kenyans Vincent Kipruto and Charles Munyeki were both along for the ride, but the pace slowed during the second half and the World Record was no longer in sight. However, Wanjiru still managed to slice one second off Khalid Khannouchi’s course record and take home an additional $100,000 for his efforts. Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri ran a tactical race for second in 2:06:04, while Kipruto held on for third in 2:06:08, making the 2009 race the fastest 1-2-3 finish in event history.
In the women’s race, a new star was discovered as Liliya Shobukhova won her first major marathon in only her second attempt at the distance. After a tactical first half, Ethiopia’s Teyba Erkesso burst to the lead, trimming down the lead back to the final contenders. Shobukhova displayed unparalleled speed over the final two miles (run at sub five-minute pace), finishing in 2:25:56, with Germany’s Irina Mikitenko second in 2:26:31 and 2008 Chicago Marathon champion Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) third in 2:26:47. Erkesso hung on for fourth while American record holder, Deena Kastor, finished sixth in 2:28:50.
The men’s wheelchair race saw Australia’s Kurt Fearnley win for the third straight year (1:29:09), and the women’s race produced one of the most thrilling finishes in race history, with the top five women all finishing within three seconds of one another. First-time marathoner Tatyana McFadden got the win in 1:50:47.
In the debut Nike Northside/Southside Challenge, a high school invitational held on the final 2.6 miles of the marathon race course, Lincoln Way Central runner Kyle Counter beat a field of 71 competitors to finish 52 seconds ahead of second place in 13:35. The girl’s champion from Luther North, Stephanie Simpson, won in 16:01, 19 seconds ahead of second place. Fifty-seven high school girls competed in the race.
October 10, 2010: Sammy Wanjiru, 2:06:24; Liliya Shobukhova, 2:20:25A record number of race finishers (36,088) contributed to a major Bank of America Chicago Marathon milestone—more than a half million finishers since the event’s founding in 1977.
Leading the way for the record field of participants were a pair of repeat champions as both Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya and Liliya Shobukhova of Russia successfully defended their titles. In doing so, the pair laid claim to the 2009-2010 World Marathon Majors series titles and an equal share of the $1 million WMM prize purse. In a dazzling rematch of the 2008 Olympic gold and bronze medalists, Wanjiru and Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede pushed each other to the limit, with Wanjiru weathering a series of attacks in the final miles before finally prevailing on the incline up Roosevelt Road. Several of the running industry’s top commentators remarked that the battle between the two great champions was the best they had ever witnessed. Shobukhova’s victory, on the other hand, was a runaway by more than three minutes over Ethiopia’s Astede Baysa, who held a half minute lead at 30K. But the patient and measured Russian proved too much in the race’s final 12K, as she posted a Russian national record of 2:20:25 for the win. Desiree Davila become the fourth fastest American with her fourth place finish in 2:26:20, ranking behind only Deena Kastor, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Kara Goucher on the all-time list.
In the men’s wheelchair division, a new course record was set by 52-year-old Heinz Frei of Switzerland who blitzed the course in 1:26:56. In the women’s wheelchair division, Amanda McGrory of downstate Savoy, IL returned to the winner’s circle with a two-second victory over Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon continued to grow in charitable and economic impact with a record 10,000 charity runners and $12 million raised for local, national and global causes. With all the fanfare surrounding “Marathon Weekend” in Chicago, the city benefitted from $170 million in economic impact.
October 9, 2011: Moses Mosop, 2:05:37; Liliya Shobukhova, 2:18:20
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon reached its registration capacity of 45,000 in record time (31 days), which led to the second-largest field in event history (35,755). Runners battled another unseasonably warm October day with temperatures peaking at 80 degrees, albeit with low humidity and light winds.
The elite athletes proved to be undaunted by the conditions, as Kenya’s Moses Mosop surged to a new men’s course record of 2:05:37, breaking Sammy Wanjiru’s two-year-old mark. Running just his second marathon (his first being a 2:03:06 runner-up finish at Boston), Mosop showed great poise as he withstood a dramatic surge by countryman Wesley Korir between 25 and 30K, before answering with a surge of his own that sprung him to victory. Korir hung on for second in 2:06:15, and Bernard Kipyego made it a Kenyan sweep with a third place finish in 2:06:29. America’s Ryan Hall placed fifth in 2:08:04, becoming the second fastest American in Chicago history.
Female champion Liliya Shobukhova of Russia became the first runner to win three straight Chicago titles, and did so with the second fastest time in event history (2:18:20). Shobukhova had company in Ethiopia’s Ejegayehu Dibaba (running her debut marathon) and Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi for the first half, before she powered away to a nearly four-minute margin of victory. Dibaba’s runner-up time of 2:22:09 was the world’s second-fastest debut, while Fukushi took third in 2:24:38.
Australia’s Kurt Fearnley won a tight wheelchair race with just six seconds separating the top four finishers. His time of 1:29:18 was five seconds faster than the ageless Heinz Frei of Switzerland, who edged Joshua George of the U.S. for second by the slimmest of margins. In the women’s race, Tatyana McFadden boldly pulled away after 10 miles and the gamble paid off, as she was dominant in a nearly two-minute victory over Christine Dawes of Australia. McFadden’s time of 1:45:03 was the second-fastest in event history.
With 10,000 charity runners representing more than 160 nonprofit organizations, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Charity Program netted an event record $13.4 million in fundraising, while the Marathon’s overall impact on the city also grew to $219 million.