Evanston, Northwestern runners take part in first Chicago Marathon since Boston bombing


Source: Jenn Murphy

McCormick junior Kyle Taylor runs Sunday in the 36th annual Chicago Marathon. Taylor completed his first marathon in just more than five hours.

Joseph Diebold and Patrick Svitek

Nearly 40,000 people completed the 36th Chicago Marathon on Sunday, the first running of the annual race since the April bombing at the Boston Marathon.

More than 300 Evanston residents registered for the Chicago Marathon, according to race results. More than two-thirds of them crossed the finish line, with 25 placing in the top 10th percentile. Five Evanston runners cracked three hours, led by 28-year-old Jeremy Rielley, who finished in 2:48:46.

Evanston Running Club coach Nancy Rollins finished the marathon in 3:31:02, her fastest time in almost five years. She came in first among 65- to 69-year-old runners.

“My attitude was to embrace the day, and I did,” said Rollins, 66. “There’s so much more to it than the race.”

Rollins said she prepared for the event by participating in other races throughout the year, including at the National Senior Games this summer. Sunday’s “ideal” weather helped too, she said.

McCormick junior Kyle Taylor, who completed his first marathon in an official time of just more than five hours, said he and a friend decided in February to cross the 26.2-mile run off their bucket lists.

“I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, mentally and physically,” Taylor said. “It was pretty good up until mile 18 and then it got pretty tough. But once we got to the end, we had a lot of people cheering for us and that made it go by pretty fast. It was just absolutely exhilarating to finish it.”

Security was heightened for this year’s marathon after the April bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which killed three people and wounded many more. Spectators were not allowed as close to the start and finish areas as in previous years, and Weinberg senior Michael Rossi, who ran for the second straight year, said he noticed more security personnel along the course.

“It was definitely way different this year,” Rossi said. “Last year the spectators were packed around the finish line, so there was lots of cheering. And they were still there, but there were giant fences around everything so they were 20, 30 feet farther back, which was still fun, but not as good.”

Rollins was also encouraged by runners’ solidarity in light of the Boston bombings. She gave Chicago “high marks” for organizing an efficient, safe race without changing its atmosphere.

“It’s just a statement,” Rollins said. “You just have to live. You can’t say, ‘Oh, better not run marathons anymore.’ Then you’re losing. You can’t live in fear.”

The marathon had another NU connection as well. For the seventh straight year, Feinberg Prof. George Chiampas served as the race’s medical director. Chiampas, also an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, published tips Wednesday on NU’s website for runners, including avoiding sugary foods and sticking to a familiar routine.

Kenyan participants swept the running marathon titles. Dennis Kimetto set a course record by 53 seconds, winning the men’s marathon in 2:03:45. Rita Jeptoo ran the fastest women’s time in the world this year, finishing in 2:19:57. American Tatyana McFadden won her third straight women’s wheelchair marathon in 1:42:35, and South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk won the men’s wheelchair race in 1:30:37.

Sunday’s marathon was Taylor’s first — but likely not his last.

“If you had asked me that a month ago, I would have told you there was no way I was doing it ever again,” he said. “But after doing it today, I have a feeling that I’m definitely going to do it again. It was an absolutely incredible environment.”

Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JosephDiebold
Twitter: @PatrickSvitek