The TREK 100 and the Chicago Marathon…more similar than you think

Sunday, October 10, 2010 was the famous Chicago Marathon.  10/10/10 was a special day, indeed.  Our 33-year-old son Johnny came from Philadelphia to run in his third marathon following Rome in 2008 and the Marine Marathon in the nation’s Capitol in 2009.  Family members awoke early for the trip to the Windy City, tolls in hand. Over 45,000 runners started in waves at 7:30.

 Unless you have been there, it is hard to explain what an incredible event it is. It seemed like the whole city turned out to cheer on the athletes as they ran on sun-drenched streets free from the city’s famous winds. Suffice to say, the Chicago Marathon is a spectacle of grand proportions.

 My wife Mary and I joined our daughter Megan and her husband Mike, as well as their 1-year-old Audrey and 4-year-old Ben who donned special handmade “Go Uncle Johnny Go” tee shirts for the occasion.  After a train ride on the Blue Line “El” from Oak Park, we found Johnny’s girlfriend Courtney at Mile 14.  She came in from Brooklyn for the big day.

We anxiously looked for Johnny aside others who cheered for their runners. We had heard from our son Dan who had seen him earlier near Lincoln Park along with his wife Erin and 2-year-old Charlie that he was running well. Ben intently held a Bruegger’s bagel, his Godfather’s favorite. When we finally spotted Johnny, Ben passed off the bagel with the style of a relay runner, and we all cheered Johnny on as he ran in the 7-minute mile pack. We spotted him again at Mile 16 and Mile 25 and found him after the finish. He didn’t run the race he hoped for, but given leg cramps, high temperatures and a persistent cold, he did great in this proud dad’s eyes. 

Why am I writing this on a MACC Fund blog?  That’s a good question.  I could not help but notice the similarities with our great TREK 100 Ride for Hope which was held four months ago.  Both started at 7:30 which called for early wake-up calls for participants, volunteers, staff and cheering fans.  Both required lots of dedicated training. 

Both had great nationally acclaimed title sponsors with Trek Bicycles leading the way for the MACC Fund for 21 years. Bank of America sponsored the Marathon and also joined the TREK 100 as a contributing sponsor. Just like the TREK 100, law enforcement and other emergency workers were on hand to keep it safe for the participants. Volunteers galore lined the streets passing out water and Gatorade to keep the runners hydrated just like the enthusiastic TREK 100 volunteers do for our great riders. I didn’t notice the other food staples that are a trademark of the TREK 100 though.  I can attest to one thing, there wasn’t a brat fry anywhere in sight or smell like we had at the Fall River Foundry on the TREK 100 route last June and Chicago’s music couldn’t compete with the polka band we had at another rest stop.  And I can guarantee that the runners didn’t start their day with pancakes hot off the griddle like the TREK 100 riders were treated to.  

One other great similarity though were the teams of runners who ran for important causes like breast cancer research, epilepsy, autism, the humane society and more, just like the teams of TREK 100 riders riding for special kids battling cancer and blood disorders.  It is hard not to be moved by people wearing special T-shirts remembering loved ones. 

All in all, it was a great day, just like the TREK 100 always is.  Lots of runners with aching bodies will have a sense of accomplishment that some of us will ever know, just like many of the riders in the TREK 100 whether they rode 19 or 100 miles. The organizers should be proud. After all, organizing any major athletic event, much less one with thousands of riders or runners is quite a feat.

So you can see, there is a reason for this post to be in a MACC Fund blog. The Chicago Marathon was a lot like the TREK 100.  It was a great day. And if you’re wondering, Charlie enjoyed it with his mom and dad. Audrey and Ben did too. They found sleep on the way home after a full day of cheering for their Uncle Johnny, just like his mom and dad did.    

Oh, one other thing.  I couldn’t help but notice that downtown Chicago is not Waterloo, Wis., home of Trek Bicycles.  From my vantage point, I’ll take Waterloo surrounded by great rolling roads and rich farmland – perfect for cycling – any day.  Why not make a date today to join us for the TREK 100 on June 11, 2011 – eight months from today.  You can’t beat the clean, country air or the TREK 100’s amazing volunteers making pancakes and brats for grateful riders.  Plus, you can’t beat a great sponsor like Trek Bicycle Corporation!      

 ~John Cary – Executive Director

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