Wow, this is a huge running story. (Update: And now leading CNN.com in the evening). It's the 30th anniversary of the massive Chicago Marathon -- 45,000 runners -- and it's cut short because of heat. It got a high of 89F (31C). Last year, when I ran the marathon there on Oct. 22, it was about 42F or 5C.
I got back from the Army Ten-Miler late this morning. It was a tough race morning, starting out at 68F (20C) when we left home at 6 a.m. but rising well above that (It's now 91F at 4:30 in the afternoon). Basically summer weather. I was getting worried for the folks in Chicago.
Before my race, I thought of the guys like Ryan and Running Jayhawk, people among the thousands who trained the last four months for today. It's a lot of miles and sweat we put into marathoning and to have this happen is horrible.
Well, the weather hit Chicago hard. According to this site, a couple of hundred people were transported because of the heat. I was tracking Ryan's, Lisa's and Barb's and OOSG times and it looked like they were well off their goal pace. Ryan, who BQed last year and was shooting for a sub 3 hour, knew it was going to be a tough race. He finished it with a 3:32:17. If such a talented runner can get hit that hard, what about the others?
Update: "Marathon officials said 24,931 runners completed the full distance, with about 4,000 finishing before the race was cut short." (Chicago Tribune). CNN story and video.
On a side note, god bless guys like these who help out poor runners.
Sadly, one runner passed away (another died during the Army Ten Miler race). The same story sums up some reaction from runners
Some comments from online readers:
"It's a blessing, man," said Nestor Benanidez, 40, of Maryland. "I'd have liked the opportunity but it's brutally hot." Benanidez, who trained 18 weeks for his first marathon, said he had already started walking when the race was called.
"Why did they cancel it at Mile 20? Couldn't they cancel it at Mile 5," said Arzu Karimova, 28, a market researcher from Chicago. "I put my entire summer into this. My entire marathon is gone. I'll never have another first marathon experience."
What is bad, though, is reports of running out of water and aid station being poorly staffed. That will be the biggest to blame.
Good call to cancel race. Those not already at the halfway point by the time the race was cancelled most likely would not have qualified for another race. Common sense over insanity.
In the spirit of Pheidippides, I say let them run till they drop!
Training for six months for what!
My husband ran the marathon today, and last year. He called me from Ashland and 18th Street and he sounded great! His usual self, not winded, not gasping. He said he was good to finish the race, but had heard it was cancelled. He has been training for two straight years, and was in terrific shape to run in any weather. What a disappointment! I know that people were dropping, but people will drop if they haven't trained properly. Also, it was known that the weather was going to be hot. Not enough WATER? How irresponsible of the planners of this marathon! Also, runners were left to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere to get back to Grant Park. Some, in not such great areas. I doubt my husband will enter next year, but with Bank of America taking over perhaps there won't be a Chicago Marathon.
I have to address this lack of water because running the Ten-Miler in in the mid-to-back of the pack, they also ran out of water at stations. I could only imagine the 6,000+ runners behind us who got virtually no water for the rest of the race. I don't know what can be done, but there has to be a way to step up the supply to meet the demand.
Heat cuts marathon short
Red Cross helps find hospitalized runners
Video on why they cut it short
250 ill, one dead