As the seasons change, we will soon welcome some of the most elite runners in the world, Chicago, to our city. And about 45,000 more involved participants.

This year marks its 45th anniversary Chicago Marathon. The race starts in waves at 7:20 am on October 9 at Grant Park and runs through 29 districts. It is a flat, fast route considered to be one of the most popular in the world six major marathons.

But it didn’t start that way. Heck, the first race was not even 26.2 miles long. However, over the decades, it has become more inclusive with a variety of people – including wheelchair drivers – and has only been canceled twice (due to a lack of a sponsor in 1987 and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic).

Enjoy this glimpse back at how competition has changed over time. I, a non-runner, will eat a donut.

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Fifteen runners started the 25-mile race in Evanston, but only 7 crossed the finish line in Washington Park. Along the route, they raised dust on Sheridan Road and were made to wait for the train to pass on Devon Avenue and Rush Street while lifting a bridge for a passing steamer. Winner crossed the finish line in …


Theology student Dan Cloeter, 25, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, won the first Chicago Marathon – then known as the Mayor of Daley Marathon – in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 52 seconds. His the cash prize was …


Promoters were criticized for the high admission fee ($ 10) and the late start time (10:30), but it was the temperature – high at 80 degrees – that hit attendees the most. Mayor Michael Bilandic created a hatch when he entered the first aid tent, he looked at the runners receiving medical attention and said were there because …

The following year, the race was postponed to October, and Bilandic was removed from his position – for his snowstorm handling.


Although the first wheelchair competition at the Chicago Marathon was not held until 1984, Jayne Schiff, a medical student at Northwestern University, became his the first unofficial wheelchair winner with a time of 3:02:38. Schiff almost died in 1975 when a landslide in a cave in upstate New York crushed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.

Vintage Chicago Tribune

Vintage Chicago Tribune


The Vintage Tribune Newsletter delves deeply into the Chicago Tribune’s archives, containing photos and stories of people, places, and events that shape the city’s past, present, and future.

“When I roll along the lake shore, I don’t feel like I’m in a wheelchair, I feel like I’m flying”Said the Tribune in 1981.


First Halloween Marathon – the newest in its history – and the weather was terrifying: snow, 34 degrees downwind and 12 degrees cool. Many runners have fallen out of hypothermia. Finland’s Ritva Lemetti (in numbers) won the women’s race with a time of 2:33:18. Brazil’s Luiz Antonio Dos Santos (go figure) won in the men’s team in 2:13:14.


Five hundredths of a second – the closest so far finish in the Chicago marathon – Jaouad Gharib (Morocco) separated from Patrick Ivuti (Kenya). Both men appeared to cross the tape at this exact moment, but the head referee ruled that … the winner was …

However, over an hour later the race is stopped after complaints of lack of water and hundreds of people being treated for heat-related illnesses.

The Chicago Marathon has been canceled twice in its history – in 1987 following the sponsor’s withdrawal, and in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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