Just after the guy from Ethiopia won the marathon, I left my house at Roosevelt and State to go to what I will forevermore call the South Loop marathon. That last couple of miles north along Michigan from the expressway to Roosevelt and on into Grant Park to the finish line totally belongs to us in the neighborhood. It's ours.
I walked south along Michigan around 10 AM from Roosevelt--and the course belonged to me. I could skirt a barrier, walk across the street, between some of the fastest runners who were finishing "early," to visit board members from the Greater South Loop Association
. Sitting lazily in chairs next to Weather Mark Tavern
, they had cowbells and noisemakers to give out.
After crossing back to the west side of Michigan, venturing through and then past the oncoming runners to visit the same sort of set up staffed by board members of South Loop Neighbors
, I stopped at Waffles
for breakfast. They had company; City Tavern and Square One
were also open early to accommodate the onlookers--and they were doing quite a business. But there wasn't much of a wait. It was really cool to sit in Waffles looking through the windows at the runners going north, their heads bobbing, their arms flailing.
After my waffle with tons of butter, pure maple syrup, chocolate hazelnut spread, bananas, bacon and coffee, I continued south on Michigan Avenue, past millions of cups of water stacked up like acrobats. Pretty soon there weren't any barriers left to skirt to get into the street, and onlookers were one with the running mass which grew as the morning wore on. We could ring our cowbells, high-five them, even trip them up if we wanted to.
Down at the SLN table, there were lots of sweets, lots of Bank of America/Marathon t-shirts for the asking--and even a few jello shots on the table for whoever wanted one. Burger King was there, too--and it became our designated and adopted restroom. We kept an empty BK cup on hand, to show we were customers when we went in. The infamous E2
was kiddie corner from us and the old Defender Building
(at one time the Moorish-style Chicago Motor Club, and before that the site of the Standard Club) was down the street.
We rang the cowbells, flapped the noisemakers, took pictures. And who should come by in the running crowd? The founder of the organization--originally called Historic Printers Row Neighbors--Mike Kelly
. We ran over to him and kissed him as he was running. He kissed us back and continued on. Spotting him was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Early in the afternoon, I walked home in the opposite direction along Michigan, to take a break--and then I ventured out once again, to the north side of Roosevelt and into Grant Park to visit the charity tents. As I walked, I watched the mass of runners go up that last stretch alongside me on Roosevelt to their reward: the end. The charity tents were fewer this year. They were expensive and the organizations had to have a fairly large minimum number of sponsoring runners in order to even be offered their own tent. So we missed out seeing our favorite marathon charity, Best Buddies of Illinois
Later that night, and out in the neighborhood once again, South Michigan Avenue where all the hoopla had been was swept clean of any and all debris. Like nothing had ever happened. City Tavern and Square One, which had opened early and which should have been going strong on the Sunday night before Columbus Day, were actually closed early. They'd put in their time already. During our marathon.
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