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Chicago Marathon 2015

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Spectators line the Chicago Marathon course at the halfway point on Adams between Clinton and Jefferson. (Photo by Scott Kleinberg)

If it’s October, it’s time for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Each year I go out to watch, cheer, photograph – and this year Periscope for the Chicago Tribune.

45,000 runners, and I’m always amazed and inspired by all of them. Think about it. What were you doing this morning? Sitting on your couch drinking coffee? Searching Yelp for waffles and a strong bloody Mary? It’s OK, you’re allowed, but think about those 45,000 runners. Some do it for charity. Some do it in memory of people they’ve lost. Some do it just to do it. And some do it because they really want to accomplish running a marathon.

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Run! Run! RUN! 13.1 miles down, 13.1 to go. (Photo by Scott Kleinberg)

And these runners span every age and generation. Today, I saw an elderly blind man running. That’s where the inspired part comes in – I complain after I use the exercise bike for 45 minutes and this guy and 44,999 of his friends are running 26.2 miles.

The part of the course that goes through my neighborhood is right at the halfway mark. 13. 1 miles. I’m not a runner, although I do love to walk. And there are only a few times I’ve ever walked more than 13.1 miles. It’s hard. Running it has to be painful. And then at that point realizing that you have to run another 13.1 miles has to wreak havoc on the brain and body.

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Some people who cheer like to stand out. This woman dressed as a banana. (Photo by Scott Kleinberg)

These people train hard for months. They practice and practice and practice some more. I can’t even begin to imagine.

I’m told it means the world to them when people cheer. My wife who is a marathon runner — she’s actually run 5, including a few times in Chicago — says calling out the name of the person really motivates them. Many of the people who go to cheer make general signs and ring bells and shout names as people come by. It’s really beautiful. Just as I wrote a post about how I lost faith in humanity, something like this happens to restore it.

Oh, and the people who cheer? Upwards of about 2 million come out each year.

Are you a marathon runner? Tell me about it – how you got into it, why you do it, how you train, etc. I’d love to hear more in the comments. Or reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook.

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