Barefoot Rick's Chicago LaSalle Bank Marathon ...
A Barefoot Marathon Personal Best! - October 22, 2006

Make no mistake -- the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon is the "mother" of them all, in my opinion. Boston may have its prestige, but Chicago certainly puts on the "People's Marathon" -- a wonderful race experience for the best in the world right down to the novice! It is a splendid running event!

I really was not quite sure what to expect when I signed up for Chicago back in March. I have had so many people tell me, for years now, that you need to do Chicago LaSalle Bank. I expressed mild interest. After all, had I not ran the Boston Marathon four times? How much better could it be than Boston?

I was bound to find out on that cool, Sunday morning in late October 2006.

Having just ran the Kansas City Marathon two weeks earlier, I had no expectations regarding a finish time. I figured I would be around four hours, which would be fine. I just wanted to go and savor the city and the spectacle of 40,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators! I was not disappointed by the grandeur of the event. With Boston, everything is compacted into the small burg of Hopkinton with similar townships along the way to "mighty" Boston itself. However, with Chicago, it is as if the entire event were happening on a large stage with an incredible cast of characters. Everywhere you turn there is a mass of people, commanding structures, and a high energy in the air!

Arriving at my Preferred Start II corral around 7:30 a.m., the first person I recognize is a smiling "Hi Guy Tom" sitting on the curb in his singlet, shorts, and sandals. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the "Hi Guy", Tom has ran a BUNCH of races over the past seven year with sandals, including the Boston Marathon (check out his website: http://runnershigh.us/) I was dressed in some old racing flats that I used in my last shod marathon in Dallas in '03, some old sweats, and an old sweat shirt. All of this I was going to pitch just a few minutes before the race since it was about 36 degrees. Anyway, Tom didn't recognize me at first with shoes on but when he did we had a good laugh! We posed for a couple of pictures, sang the Star-Spangled Banner and then I peeled off my "disguise" and was ready for the start gun, wearing a singlet and shorts.

   
Left - HiGuy Tom and Barefoot Rick in disguise! Right - Moments before the race begins!

After the start gun sounded, we slowly made our way to the start line. I was surprised that it only took us a little over three minutes to get there. Once we hit the start line, we started running! What a mass of moving humanity! It made me proud to be a runner, especially a barefoot marathon runner. Of course, there were lots of comments from both runners and spectators along the way regarding my "barefootedness".

I must have high-fived 10,000 hands. It was a ton of fun engaging the crowds! The truth stated, I'm sure I could have shaved a few minutes off my time if I wouldn't have made such wide turns to hand slap the spectators. They were often 10 deep on some of the corners and I would usually turn wide so that I could high-five as many as possible (especially the kids ... they are the most fun!)

The course definitely lives up to its reputation being flat and fast. The only "bumps" in the road that I can remember were crossing back and forth over the Chicago River on the steel grates. However, they were easily negotiated by slowing down a bit. As I looked down into the river through the open grate bridge, I was imagining how the river must look on St. Patrick's Day when they dye the river green. And speaking of the Irish, there was a robust-sounding Irish band playing a merry medley at about mile 9 coming back through the north end (historically Irish). I just had to stop and dance a short Irish jig. I was certainly feeling festive!

                             

               

Once headed out on the second half of the course, we meandered through the various ethnic areas -- Italian, Greek, Hispanic, and finally Chinese at about mile 22. The crowds were fantastic and had lots of shouts and yells for "Barefoot Rick!" as I headed on my way. The enthusiastic crowds just gave me more and more adrenaline to continue toward the finish line.

The last mile were wall to wall crowds. I was hand slapping all the way to the finish line. What a wonderful finish line with such a crowd of well-wishers! It was Boston all over, but with a Midwestern flavor and hospitality only the Heartland can serve up. Then I looked at my watch -- a 3:38:07! Holy Smoke ... I had just ran the fastest barefoot marathon of my barefoot running career! (Later, I ironically reflected that my "shod" marathon PR came 5 years earlier in another Illinois town [Quad Cities Marathon, 9/24/01, Moline Illinois, Time: 3:15:59]).

           

Of the 41 marathons that I have ran, Chicago is WAY up there on my list of favorites. Take my word for it (and the word of a LOT of other folks, I'm sure!) -- run Boston for the history, but run Chicago for the celebration. Chicago's LaSalle Bank Marathon truly celebrates the marathon distance in a way not to be matched by any other!

   
Relaxing Post-marathon!

Chicago Sun-Times Article - October 22, 2006
Reducing injuries, equipment cost
RICK ROEBER | it's not the shoes

Chicago Tribune Article - October 26, 2006

Factoids:

Ran the entire distance*
23rd Barefoot Marathon
41st Marathon Overall (First 18 marathons with shoes)

*I am a marathon runner and do not prescribe to a run/walk method for MY marathons. Likewise, I do not cast aspersions on anyone else for "finishing" a marathon in whatever way they can propel themselves across the finish line, whether it be walking, crawling, etc. All marathon finishes are notable in their own regard.

 RICK ROEBER |  Bib #9562  |  LEE'S SUMMIT, MO - UNITED STATES  |  Age 50  |  M  |  USA   
START 5K 10K 15K 20K HALF 25K 30K 35K 40K FINISH
8:02:43 AM CST  0:25:52  0:51:43  1:17:39  1:43:24  1:48:57  2:09:18  2:34:20  2:59:42  3:26:14 3:38:07
TIME

 Chip Time: 3:38:07

 Clock:
3:41:51

Pace: 
8:19

 Placement  Overall: 5798  Gender: 4689  Division: 262


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