Chicago Marathon runners celebrate identity — and just making it to finish line: ‘You’re doing something special’


Out of the 40,000 runners expected in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Cal Calamia was one of 70 runners registered for the Chicago Marathon. non-binary categorya new division also added to several other major marathons.

Despite receiving hate mail online since the new category – “rot-in-hell-type stuff” – Calamia “couldn’t be happier” after beating a personal goal of finishing in less than three hours, completing the 26.2 kilometer race with one minute and two seconds to spare.

More than 10,000 international participants ran on Sunday, many showing pride in their heritage by wearing their country’s colors or carrying flags or other national symbols with them.

Kenyans Benson Kipruto and Ruth Chepngetich came first. Kipruto finished in 2:04:24. Chepngetich was the leading woman for the second consecutive year, finishing in 2:14:18. Emily Sisson finished second and set a record for an American woman at 2:18:29.

Calamia hopes that this level of excitement is extended to nonbinary participants in the future; the addition of the new category is not promoted for this year’s event.

“The first step is for marathons to start celebrating what we have,” Calamia said. “It doesn’t matter what time you run or who you are, you just have to show that you can do whatever you want to do and that you belong in whatever field you want to be in.”

Cal Calamia, from San Francisco, runs along South Columbus Drive near Grant Park on Sunday. Calamia was among those entered in the new non-binary category of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

They say that by celebrating the communities that make up the participants of the marathon, others could be inspired too – something that they are willing to do to be vocal to enter the race in the new category.

“I’m here to connect with other people like me and inspire other people like me,” said Calamia, who lives in San Francisco. “That’s why this category is so important. It might seem like a small thing for an organization like the Chicago Marathon, but it’s huge for those of us who had to deal with the dissonance of trying to choose a category.”

Ariel Robbins and Theo Espy cheer on Cal Calamia near the 17-mile mark during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. Calamia was one of 70 runners entered in the event's new non-binary category.

Ariel Robbins and Theo Espy cheer on Cal Calamia near the 17-mile mark along Jackson Boulevard during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday. Calamia was one of 70 runners entered in the event’s new non-binary category.

Calamia’s goal resonated with some spectators cheering.

David Florian-Carlson, 21, and Andrew Golba, 19, were among four cross-country teammates from Bethel University who came to Chicago specifically to watch NCAA champion Conner Mantz compete in his first marathon

Golba had been to the marathon before; was there when his father ran it in 2016. Golba said he started training with his father at a young age, riding on the back of his mother’s bike until he started to ride himself and eventually to run.

Now, after watching his father and Mantz run, Golba said he wants to compete in the marathon as well, but he doesn’t plan to stop there. As soon as he finishes college he wants to “start hitting” the six Abbott World Marathon Majors: Tokyo, Boston, Berlin, New York, London and Chicago.

Thomas Eller from Essen (center right) after crossing the finish line along South Columbus Drive.

Thomas Eller from Essen, Germany (center right) after crossing the finish line Sunday along South Columbus Drive.

Finishing the “Big Six” is a lot for many, including marathon participant Wesley Jacobs, 47, who spent 25 hours on planes to get to Chicago from Cape Town, South Africa.

Jacobs had finished the Berlin marathon a few years earlier — that course was much flatter, he noted — and plans to tackle London next year.

Alice Ni, a Connecticut resident, also plans to complete the “Big Six” in her lifetime, although she said the Chicago course had impressed her.

“I don’t even know how others can compare,” Ni, 30, said.

She had to postpone last year due to an Achilles tendon injury caused by running “too many miles” before she was ready. This year, he “took it more seriously” and trained with a coach.

Alice Ni, 30, on South Columbus Drive just after finishing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 9, 2022. She had to postpone last year due to an injury.

Alice Ni, 30, on South Columbus Drive just after finishing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday. He had to postpone last year due to an injury.

Just seeing Chicago is another draw for many runners.

“Chicago is my favorite city in the world,” said Enrique Vazquez, a 53-year-old from Mexico City, shortly after completing his ninth Chicago Marathon.

This one was special though – Vazquez only had eight weeks of preparation, half of what he would normally do, after he fell and broke six ribs.

“Just running the marathon is the result of really great discipline, and setting that goal is worth it for everyone,” said Vazquez. “If you finish [the marathon]You’re doing something special.”

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Enrique Vazquez, 53, from Mexico City, broke six ribs in a fall earlier this year, so he was able to train for less time than he normally would. But he crossed the finish line on Sunday

Contribution: Associated Press



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