[Note: The archive of all the photos is hosted at smugmug. I explain at the bottom of this post how to download pictures of yourself if I got you.]
I just spent about 4 hours standing around in the cold damp weather and my feet are pretty sore. But I know 40,000 people who have no sympathy for me. I was taking pictures at the Chicago Marathon.
I decided to hang out in Chinatown, in the area just after the runners turned off of Cermak onto southbound Wentworth. I had scouted this out earlier and knew I’d be able to drive in and out of the area without having to cross the marathon course.
I was hoping to get a picture of John Ruberry, the Marathon Pundit, but I was unable to spot him in the pack. I had signed up for runner tracking, but only got a text message when he passed the 15km mark. After that, nothing. If I got him, I got him by accident.
I’d never seen a marathon before. It’s pretty cool to watch. For a while, you just stand around with nothing to do.
Then the first wave of escort vehicles comes through.
Then the leading wheelchair competitors come through.
Wheels are a far more energy efficient transportation mechanism than legs, so they’re way ahead of the runners. In fact, it’s wheelchairs for several minutes.
As you can see, I picked such a good observation point that the credentialed media are starting to gather in front of me, blocking my view.
Then the second wave of escort vehicles arrives.
And…at last, a glimpse of some runners.
These are the frontrunners. For these guys, the Chicago Marathon isn’t a proud personal achievment, it’s not a struggle for personal betterment. For these guys, it’s a race.
As he approached the finish tape on the cold, blustery, damp day, Cheruiyot thrust out his right arm and briefly wagged a finger signaling that he was No. 1. Then, as he spread both arms wide and his winning time of 2 hours 7 minutes 35 seconds was about to register on the clock, Cheruiyot stepped on a race decal, skidded and went down on the red finish mat, hitting the asphalt hard.
Though he never broke the ceremonial banner, Cheruiyot slid forward past the finish line to guarantee an official finish.
The fall knocked him unconscious, and he has no memory of sliding past the finish line to win the race.
Then comes a trickle of serious runners:
That’s the first woman runner, Constantina Tomescu-Dita, who eventually finished fifth.
Then the trickle continues…
As you can see, at spectators can just scoot across the street in between the small groups of runners. They keep coming…
We’re starting to get into the less serious runners now, who are having a little more fun at it.
The whole trackside is now filled with people waiting around to cheer on their friends.
At this point, I was trapped on the wrong side of the course to get back to my car, so I decided to stick it out. If they could keep running, I could keep shooting.
And they just kept coming…
By the way, the men we keep seeing without shirts have probably taken them off for a specific reason. I’ll let you marathoners explain why, but I believe the last image holds a clue.
At this point, the crowd is becoming increasingly diverse, a mix of serious athletes, people just doing it to prove they can, and people that are hard to explain…
…and still they keep coming…
[Update: Part 2 is up.]
I eventually shot out all four flash memory cards in my camera, a total of 1784 pictures. Other spectators blocked me often, and I knew I was going to run out, so I didn’t try to photograph everyone, but I figure I probably got 10 to 20% of the field of runners. I’m in the process of loading them online in chronological order in case anyone wants to try to find themselves. It will take a few days to load all of them—we’re talking about a 7 gigabyte upload over DSL—but I’ve got the first 300 up now. You’ve just seen a few samples.
If you ran in the race, I was at roughly 21.4 miles, just past the Energizer Keep Going Zone that had the Chinese dragons, but before aid station 14. (The maps and lists on the Chicago Marathon website are in disagreement, some sources put this at 21.2, but I think 21.4 is more accurate.) I’ve mapped the location on Google Maps or (if you have it) Google Earth.
When you ran under the giant pagoda thing you see in all the pictures of Chinatown, I might have taken your picture about 30 seconds later. If you reached that point in the race before 10:45:02 (i.e. a 7:43 pace with a projected finish at 3:22:03), you can check here to see if I snapped your picture.
All the photos should be in order (or nearly so). The middle part of the photo name is the time (e.g. CM_102351_0321 means 10:23:51), so if you calculate when you passed this location you can look for your picture.
You can lookup race results at the unofficial Chicago Marathon results page. I was located near 34.4km, so the timestamp at the 35km point should help you out. Just remember the race started at 8:00 to calculate your arrival time in my photo zone.
All photos are the unretouched, uncropped 10MP JPEGs right from the camera. You can order prints right off that page if you want, but you can also download the original full-resolution image by clicking the “save photo” link. Even if you appear small in the frame, at this resolution you should be able to get a nice picture by cropping in on yourself using any photo editing software.
Let me know if I got you.
More photos to come, as soon as I get them uploaded.
[These photographs may be used freely for non-commercial purposes (blog ads are okay) provided credit is given to Mark Draughn at http://www.windypundit.com. For other uses, please contact me.]