The Bears, the Bulls & the Bellas – Chicago marathon 2016

(I’d thought of this title before acknowledging the third sport and watching the Cubs win the play-off, Go Cubs!)

Chicago trip was off to a good start, sat behind Scott Overall on the plane (retrospective hats off to Scott for finishing 13th overall in 2:18). Electric atmosphere upon arrival, runners welcomed with open arms.

Pre race preparations had been interesting, whilst training may not have gone to plan I’d nailed the carb loading; living off little other than rice & pasta since leaving home 5 years ago.

Expo negotiated, secret service closed down the city for Obama’s arrival as we attempted to leave the convention centre, American efficiency at its finest. Race morning arrived, with the stunning Chicago skyline as the backdrop I lined up in Corral A alongside fellow Bella Michael Lancaster. Rendition of the National Anthem and the gun was fired, 52 seconds later the Bellas were off on their comprehensive tour of the Windy City. Through the loop and headed north to the zoo before returning downtown and completing the first half, surprising lack of congestion and through without issue in 1:32. Headed west and things started to become troublesome, cramps from ~15m put any ambitious hopes of GFA to bed. Worth a shot and still, this was a marathon debut in Chicago and absolutely nothing was going to spoil it.

On we continued through little Italy and towards China town, heading south and through 20m. Came to a halt with hamstring cramp at 21m, soon back underway and the crowd density increased dramatically towards the finish. A 2.5m straight took us to 500m to go, up “Mount Roosevelt” (we should show them the Sherbrookes) and along the finishing straight with arms aloft, proud to be wearing a purple vest and bringing it home in 3:24.

I’ve watched my parents run a lot of marathons and, with the exception of seeing Kev smashing it at the mighty Wrecsam Marathon, little compares to Chicago.

Phenomenal race, thoroughly enjoyed and one for your bucket list. A heartfelt thank you to the club for the support, advise and reassurance over the summer months, especially to Louise. There’s nothing quite like running in a Bella vest.

Post-race celebrations continued long into the week, taking in all the city had to offer. The thought of a marathon terrified me, now impatient for the next one.


In the days leading up to the race I found this from @coachbennett on Instagram, one worth pondering: