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Chicago Marathon Celebrates 40 Years

NOTE: NBC 5 will offer complete live coverage of the 2017 race beginning at 7 a.m. CT online and on TV. The race can be streamed live from around world on the NBC Chicago app, which will also offer a live stream of the finish line from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Click here for more. 

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has been a longstanding tradition in Chicago, but this year’s race will hit a major milestone as the global event marks its 40th anniversary.

The last 40 years have seen stunning photo finishes, heartbreaking falls, historic victories and moments of both pride and compassion on the course.

The race first stepped off with more than 4,200 runners in 1977, titled the Mayor Daley Marathon – the “people’s race anyone can come and enjoy.”

Fast forward to 2017, where more than 40,000 racers are slated to hit city streets.

The years in between saw plenty of ups and downs, but Chicago’s status as “the running capital of the world” could not be denied.

The 40th running of the marathon could see some of the iconic race’s biggest headlines – and history made.

No American has won the Chicago Marathon since Khalid Khannouci won in 2002, but Galen Rupp could end that this year. He won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, and he finished in second place in the Boston Marathon last spring. He is also a two-time Olympian, having won a silver medal in the 10,000 meters race at the 2012 Games in London.

Still, Kenya has been absolutely dominant in the race in recent years, winning 13 of the last 14 marathons on the men’s side. Abel Kirui won last year, and he is in the field again this year as he attempts to become the first runner to win back-to-back men’s marathons since Sammy Wanjiru won in 2009 and 2010.

And the fastest finisher in marathon history is back in Chicago.

Dennis Kimetto will look to win the race this year after winning the 2013 marathon with a time of 2:03:45, the fastest winning time in the history of the 40-year-old race. 

The women’s side will see the return of Florence Kiplagat, who will try to become the first three-peat winner of the women’s race.

But yet another American runner could steal headlines.

Coming off her win in the United States 20,000 meter championships, Jordan Hasay will be looking to become the first American-born winner of the women’s race since Deena Kastor took home the title in 2005. Hasay finished in third place in the 2017 Boston Marathon, and the 26-year-old is hoping for similar success in Chicago. 

Wheelchair racers will also hit the course with a vengeance as defending champ Marcel Hug, who won last year’s event in a thrilling photo finish, takes on his biggest contender Kurt Fearnley once more.

Meanwhile, Tatyana McFadden has won the last six women’s wheelchair races in Chicago, and she’ll be looking to win her eighth overall this season. There are three women in the field that have better personal best times, including Manuela Schar.

The race will look to once again raise millions of dollars for charities and bring stories of heroism and triumph through Chicago’s 29 neighborhoods.

The city’s history will be on full display along with that of the race itself as spectators line the 26.2 mile track.

“When the Bank of America Chicago Marathon began, it was known as ‘The people’s race anyone can come and enjoy,’” marathon organizers wrote on Facebook. “Everything we do here at the Chicago Marathon is to make sure that sentiment holds true. We love our participants, our spectators, our volunteers and this city for cheering on our community of runners for the last 40 years.”

Stepped up security precautions will be in place for this year’s event following the tragic Las Vegas concert shooting that shook the nation earlier this week.

Police have added 1,000 additional undercover officers to their team as Grant Park becomes the center of one of the city’s largest outdoor events.

Marathon organizers said Vegas remains at the top of their minds, but they’re confident of the security plan they have in place and will continue to fine-tune it before Sunday. 

“As we enter the final week of preparations for the 40th running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the horrible events that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday are weighing heavily on our hearts,” Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to the victims, their families and all who have been affected by this national tragedy. We also understand how many who plan to participate in Sunday’s celebration may have some concerns about public safety in the wake of Sunday’s events.” 

Pinkowski said organizers were discussing with authorities what adjustments would be made following the deadly concert shooting.

“And, on race day, we will be working alongside the Chicago Police Department and many others in the law enforcement community, as we do every year, to keep our event, our participants and our city safe,” he said. “We remind everyone on race day to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately. And, we encourage all participants to join us on Sunday for what is always an uplifting, joyous celebration of the human spirit.”

Published 58 minutes ago | Updated 4 minutes ago

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