Apart from getting married, most people will never get cheered as much as they do while running in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Cheering spectators packed city neighborhoods Sunday during the 41st annual event and filled the air with yelps, air horns, cow bells, bongo drums as well as very flattering signs — such as, “Those shorts make your butt look fast!”
Long stretches of the 26.2 mile course were overflowing with curbside high-fivers.
“There’s nothing like it,” said Tricia Nelson, 30, a physical education teacher from Cincinnati, while catching her breath on Cermak Road in Pilsen.
“I like the high-fives from little kids. They’re just so excited. It lifts you up,” she said.
A group of women holding small white dogs along Sedgwick Street in Lincoln Park waved their pups’ paws at runners.
A bit of early rain did not dampen the euphoria.
Julia Larson, 27, hoping her energy would rub off, held an ’80s dance party along the racecourse in Lincoln Park to support runners, including one of her best friends. “We’ve got to pump them up,” said Larson, who works at Groupon.
Distractions for some runners also included spotting actor/comedian Kevin Hart on the racecourse. Hart finished with a time of just over four hours and 13 minutes.
Other sights seen in a few minutes: superhero costumes, tutus and a woman dressed as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” who was carrying a leash with a stuffed-animal Toto at the end.
For Brady Broski, an on-air radio personality with 103.5 Kiss FM, it was amazing to see how much goodwill the race generates.
“It just feels like Chicago comes together, if only for a few hours on a Sunday,” he said. “It’s inspiring to see all walks of life come together through all these neighborhoods and cheer each other on and see what this city can be.”
More than 44,000 runners finished the race last year. A race spokeswoman said Sunday about the same number of runners finished this year’s race.
It’s estimated that more than one million spectators attended the race.