CHICAGO (08-Oct) -- Nearly one week after the International Olympic Committee rejected this city's 2016 Olympic bid, mayor Richard M. Daley was still able to take pride in what may be Chicago's most important global sporting event: the Bank of America Chicago Marathon which takes place here for the 32nd time on Sunday.
"When we look at the race, it started out 32 years ago and it started out as a small race," the mayor told reporters here today, stressing the event's positive economic impact on the city. "And now it's over 45,000 people participating."
The marathon isn't the Olympics, but it's become a truly world class event within the Olympic sports family. The race has seen four open world marathon records, three open debut world records, and too many national records to list. The event records, 2:05:42 by Khalid Khannouchi in 1999 and 2:17:18 by Paula Radcliffe in 2002, are still amongst history's fastest marathons. Daley said that the race definitely helped bring Chicago into the consciousness of international sports fans, if not into the exclusive group of Olympic Games venues.
"At the same time it's an international event, it's a global event," the mayor said. "And we, of course, used many, many pictures of this for our presentation for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We made no bones about that. People knew it around the world." He added: "That says a lot about the city. That says a lot about the appreciation of this wonderful marathon."
The man most responsible for the race's success, executive director Carey Pinkowski, is celebrating his 20th year at the helm. Today, the city recognized his contribution to Chicago by naming the intersection of streets where the race begins, Monroe Street and Columbus Drive, Carey Pinkowski Drive. Mayor Daley presented Pinkowski with the sign today, calling him "passionate, hard working, committed and disciplined."
"I was in the park and got a ticket the other day, and I don't know if this will do anything in the future," Pinkowski joked. "I've been very, very fortunate to be the race director for 20 years, and it's an honor to be the spokesman. It really is thousands of people that have been behind the scene," he said thanking the city's various municipal agencies. He added: "We're looking forward to a great event on Sunday morning."
After two years of unusually hot weather, Sunday's race here will be cold. The website Weather.com forecasts wake up temperatures at about 40°F (5°C), and only reaching an afternoon high of 50°F (9°C). That's a far cry from the 80°F (27°C) hit in the 2008 edition of the race when Pinkowski had to shut the race down 3 hours and 50 minutes into the event.