Everyone wants to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this year. Everyone wants to register early (well, you kind of have to). Everyone wants to say they crossed the finish line at least once at this Windy City 26.2 miler.
Me included. I swore I wouldn't--I have an Ironman to race not even a month before the October 7 marathon--yet I found myself near hypnotized filling out the information on the registration screen last Thursday. Option one: register Tuesday night at launch event and be entered into raffle to win a hospitality pack. This would have been the smart time to register. Option two: register Wednesday at noon when the official registration opened to the public. Still, I said no. Option three: read a warning that the race will close soon and then register. There's no logical answer to why I chose option three aside from some stray thought telling me not to sit out. Unless I could call it the Abdi effect, meeting 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member Abdi Abdirahman, rubbing off a day and half late. I guess that's how your brain acts when you've run the same fall event 12 years in a row?
In registering, I only made myself part of the problem. Yes, it's a problem when a 45,000-runner field is on the verge of closing a mere six (yep, that's not a typo) days after opening. That's the update I was greeted to today: hurry and register because the 35th Chicago Marathon will close sometime today.
Maybe the secret's out on the flat and fast course? Not that it was any great big secret, but surely runners would be drawn to a race that sounds relatively easy based on the course alone. And stacked up next to Big Sur, New York City and Boston--three races that entered my mind as being hillier conquests--it probably is. Ah what some of these 45,000 runners don't know. Get a windy day in the Windy City and that run is a lot less fun--and you can't wait to change directions, in hopes that the wind will be at your back (though we like to get the swirling variety so that wind always seems inescapable).
Maybe it's Chicago's lack of a lottery or qualification standard? My #runChi friend Tim pointed this one out, and I have to say that he's probably right. You have to chance the odds to run New York City--or join the New York Road Runners, run nine of their races and volunteer at one, and then wait until the following year to get into the marathon. You have to run darn fast to qualify for Boston--and if future registration goes anything like it did for the 2012 race that time still may not get you in if faster runners beat you to it.
Maybe it's the weather? October in Chicago is fickle. One week, you're bundling up in tights and a fleece for a 5K; the next, you're back to wearing shorts and a tank. It's been a while since it snowed on marathon day, but it has happened, and the last time it was even close to cold enough for snow on race day was 2009. I'd take the cold over the heat, I run faster, but recent races--2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011--have given us the exact opposite. But if you train all summer, when we do have some blistering hot days, you're prepared for it. Yeah, I probably should remember that thought for my own training. I can count the number of days I bared the heat on one hand--granted I was coming back from injury, but even a walk would have been helpful.
I'll stop there, because if I keep speculating, chances are the race will close while I'm still typing. If you're not registered to run the 2012 Chicago Marathon--and you want to--stop reading and sign up here. If you're already registered, why did you choose to run through the streets of the Windy City on October 7, 2012?
Note: I should probably be a little more specific...even after the announcement goes out that the 2012 Chicago Marathon registration is officially closed, you'll still be able to check with the race's charity partners for entries. Though it might make you feel more obligated to run (that's a good thing, right?) and set you back in the fundraising department, it's a great way to add more meaning to your 26.2 miles and help out a worthy cause in the process. Stay tuned for more on that...I'll be highlighting some teams in the future.