The Chicago Marathon is one of five World Marathon Majors. It’s going to be run on Sunday, October 7, 2007. It’s already full.
How does this happen? The race increased its number of entries from 40,000 last year to 45,000 this year. And it filled up last week, almost six months in advance of the race.
After doing the National Marathon four weeks ago, I took a little time off to reflect on whether I wanted to do another marathon in the fall. I recovered quickly from National, however, to the point where only two days ago I ran a 1:16:05 at the GW Parkway 10-Miler, which is just ninety-one seconds off the PR I set at Army last fall when I was in peak form.
My friends have been talking up Chicago to me. It’s flat and fast, they say. I liked the sound of both those things, because the hills really bothered me the last ten miles at National, and I’m only five minutes off a BQ. (At dinner at a steak house a little while after National, celebrating Jeanne's recovery from surgery, Bex's long Half, my marathon and A's Cherry Blossom. I can't remember if we were talking about Chicago, we were probably talking about food!)
By last week, I had decided to sign up for Chicago. I ran New York last November, another Major, and I loved it! (It helped that I am from New York City.) But New York is not a BQ-friendly course.
I fell hard for Chicago. Doing another Major would be cool, I thought. I would be in the same advanced "C" starting corral with some of my friends, most of whom I can keep up with, at least for awhile. We would be ahead of the mass pack of runners. That’s one of the things that sapped my energy at New York, the congested condition of the course for the entire 26 miles. All that sideways running wore me out.
I tidied up some outstanding matters. Two weekends ago I found all my tax documents and filed for an extension. I got my birthday celebration out of the way. (Thanks for the calls, notes and presents, kids. Not!) Last Wednesday I ran my monthly noontime 3K race at the Tidal Basin. My "pressing" tasks completed, I was ready to make my commitment to Chicago.
A half hour after I returned from the Tidal Basin run, A came into my office to tell me Chicago was closed. It had filled up that very day.
I was stunned. I felt like I did the day during my divorce when I came home and found court papers tacked to my door announcing that my minor children were supposedly suing me, supposedly over a "fiduciary" matter. (The case was ultimately thrown out and their Mother was sanctioned, and then assessed all of my appellate costs, almost $50,000 in all. Sadly, years later my now-majority age children still don't see me or speak to me.)
Jilted, I cast about for a substitute. I got excited about Steamtown for awhile and it’s net downhill of almost a thousand feet. I ogled at its elevation (or declination) chart. But, Scranton? Someone told me it's where the NBC series "The Office" is based. I didn't see the draw.
But like an ongoing stormy romance, I received another chance. A came into my office this afternoon and explained to me about charity running. She too was kicking herself for not registering for Chicago in time, but who among us knows what they are going to be doing six months from now? No one knew the race was about to fill up.
A registered for Chicago last year, got injured and had to scratch. She ate her entry fee. The purchase of a $100 t-shirt, was how she termed it. And the shirt sucked, she added.
A had been talking before Chicago had closed about maybe running for a charity. She had found a qualifying charity that benefitted two causes she felt deeply about, education and helping persons from impoverished circumstances.
This charity still had seven entries available for Chicago. The charity required a commitment of $500 worth of fund raising. Whatever you don’t raise, you owe. Paying that amount would be a body slam but it wouldn’t be a death blow (some charities require a commitment of several thousand dollars).
I was seduced. Every marathoner should run for a charity at least once, I figured. I used my American Express card for the $110 race entry fee. I used my Capital One card for the $500 charity commitment. A took my forms and her forms off to the fax machine.
Now there are five slots left for A Running Start Foundation instead of seven. It’s a wonderful charity, folks. It’s going to be a wonderful race.