The Chicago Marathon

I am back in Chicago the second week of October each year for the Mid-American Business Dean’s Association (MABDA) annual conference (see last October’s post on the Tunukis). The MABDA conference is a small one, about 100 attendees, and presents a lot of opportunities to talk a long time with colleagues who face the similar sets of opportunities and challenges that I have on my radar. I am now one of the geezers in this group, 11 years as dean when the average for a business school dean at the same institution is less than four years. Each year that I attend is marked by fewer dean’s that go back as far as my start, August 2003.

The first day of the MABDA conference was October 12, the same day as the 37th running of the Chicago Marathon. The race is limited to 45,000 runners, nearly 41,000 started this year, and it raises over $15 million for a host of charities in the Chicago area. It once was called the Mayor Daley Marathon; however, the first race was run September 3, 1905 long before Daley’s days as mayor. There are over one million spectators, many cheering on friends, family members, organizations, and countries represented. It is a very competitive race for the world class runners, with the winning times a little more than two hours. For many other runners it is a chance to run another marathon, add to a list of marathon venues run, run a first marathon and/or just hang out with friends and relatives. My sister, Terry, ran in 1995. That year it was very cold and quite windy on race day. It was snowing as well and it was hard to see beyond a few hundred yards. I could barely see Lake Michigan standing at the Lake Shore Drive. The runners, including my sister, were pretty miserable, and most were wearing a lot more clothing than normal; hats, scarfs, gloves… Of course, there were a few macho dudes who ran at least part of the race shirtless! Impressive, and stupid. Most of the spectators stayed inside drinking hot chocolate with snapps, and venturing outside periodically in an effort to at least appear to be supportive of some poor runner(s). Don’t worry, the runners were too cold to notice.

runner spectator

The race starts and ends at Grant Park, the scene of the biggest ruckus during the 1968 democratic convention. Poor Hubert Humphrey had no idea about what was happening in the park during the convention and he never recovered as he lost to Richard Nixon in the November election. Grant Park was once named Lake Park. At one time, the Chicago Cubs called Lake Park their home (yes, there was life before Wrigley and the curse of the goat). They were a better team in those days. Over the years, Lake Park and now Grant Park (as you suspected, named after President and General Ulysses S. Grant) has become larger as landfill, including debris from the Chicago fire of 1871, has provided the stuff for growth. Today, the park with its views, breezes, art, music, and monuments is a great place to spend some time.

Chicago is a great city, with a rich history and some very interesting nicknames for its citizens. Some of my favorites include: Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna, George “Bugs” Moran, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Johnny “The Brain” Torrio, Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik, Vincent “The Schemer” Brucci, Sam “Nails” Morton, Meyer “The Brain” Lansky (yes,, they have had two brains), “Machine Gun Jack” McGurn, Fred “Killer” Burke, Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, “Mad Sam” Destefano, James “Jimmy the Bomber” Belcastro, William “Willie Potatoes” Daddano, Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo, and Sam “Teets” Battaglia. Where do you get names like these?

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