Train. Race. Conquer: Chicago Marathon 2015 – 5* Pix

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Train. Race. Conquer. I saw that phrase on a t-shirt this morning as I waked around the downtown gathering place om Grant Park for this year’s marathon athletes. It so encapsulated the day for me. I was there for a friend, one who had trained for the last year, and who had during the midst of that year, suffered a medical emergency that threatened her participation. Yet, she kept at it, and today was THE DAY. As of this writing, she completed the marathon – a conqueror over the struggle.

45,000 athletes participate in the Chicago Marathon. Some are disabled, are in bikes or wheelchairs, or have artificial limbs. Still other disabled athletes run with a companion. Many run to raise funds for a favored organization – go Team Paws! No matter what the reason, or the inspiration that gets the athletes on the run, they inspire me to make this an annual “must photograph” event!

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  • Getting Ready (2) – Wow! Even at 6:30 in the morning, as the runners were moving to their designated track and start group, you can see that this is a huge group!  Security was out, making sure pedestrians and spectators didn’t get too close to the runners. When the race started for the elite runners, Chicago’s finest cleared the way the way on motor cycles.

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  • Inspired! (4) – The first group of athletes are the disabled athletes.  I don’t know their stories, but for me they are the very definition of inspiration.  I have photographed this event for several years now, so i even recognize some of them — for example, the woman with the pink socks is one I have photographed in previous marathons.

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  • Flag Bearer – A number of runners carry or wear something to signify something that is important to them. These runners are carrying flags for the US and Palestine.

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  • Police Are Runners Too – These police officers, wearing their full uniforms and weapons, were with the first group of runners.

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  • Crowd Watching – Of course, part of the fun is watching the crowd, to see those that come downtown to support family members. One man had two dozen roses, and cheered along with kids holding hand made signs celebrating Maria.  We were all packed in the crowd in the intersection of Michigan and Roosevelt, the turn before the last hill.  The photo i didn’t get — the one of the father with three kids.  His t-shirt had the letters GO, and theirs each had one letter — M, O, and M.

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  • Crowd Pleasers – Even the runners urge the crowd to cheer. They run the course, but the interact with the crowd — slapping hands, waving their arms calling for the crowd to cheer them and other runners, dancing, or wearing outlandish costumes. The crowd knows some of the regulars – Minnie Mouse, the Juggler, and in today’s case, the Green Guy.

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  • The Last Hill – In the last half mile of the race, there is the hill on Roosevelt –  After 25+ miles, elite athletes are still kicking high, but others may have to dig down deep for the inner resources to crest the hill and turn the corner to the finish line. You can see it in the burst of energy from these competitors, the determination of the athletes on wheels, and the concentration of walkers taking recovery time.

I walked away from this event, as I always do, with renewed admiration for all the athletes. One of my objectives, though, was to have a different photographic perspective of the event, and show a side that I haven’t shown before. I may have, with the images of the beginning of the race, and those near the end.

In any case, another marathon hosted by this fabulous city, and some 5* images to show for it!

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