Chicago Marathon

The Chicago marathon is one of the five World Marathon Majors, an IAAF Gold Label race that joins Boston, New York, London and Berlin as the leading marathons in the running calendar.

Although the present version of the race has been run every year since 1977, the Chicago marathon actually has much older origins – the first version of the race was run as long ago as 1905.  That race was run on Saturday, September 23, 1905, starting in Evanston and finishing in front of a reported 100,000 people in the Washington Park race track.

In an epic race, favorite Louis Marks was stunned by a late surge from eventual winner Rhud Metzner.  From then on the Chicago marathon became an annual fixture until the financial crisis of the 1920s put paid to it.

The modern race was reborn in 1977 on a course that largely follows the route of the earlier version.  Over the past thirty three years the race has grown from an original field of 4200 runners in 1977 to its current limit of 45,000 entrants. Unlike Boston, there is no qualifying time, but runners who finish outside 6½ hours are not officially timed.

However, this is not an issue for most people – Chicago is one of the fastest, flattest courses on the international marathon circuit, and as a result is popular with not just mass participation athletes but also elite runners.

These days, like many races worldwide, Chicago has become increasingly associated with fund raising.  Although it doesn't reach London's epic proportions, it consistently raises around $10m per year for local, national and international charities.

Since 1984, world records have been broken four times in the race.  British runner Steve Jones was the first, running a world record time of 2:08:05 in 1984, while Khalid Khannouchi became the first runner to dip under 2:06:00 with a 2:05:42 to win the race in 1999.  The current course record of 2:05:41 was set by Samuel Wanjiru in 2009.

The women's race has also seen its fair share of world records, with the world record being broken in consecutive years – in 2001, Catherine Ndereba set a new world record of 2:18:47, but just twelve months later, Britain's Paula Radcliffe smashed that time with a run of 2:17:18