CHICAGO — A Kenyan runner set a course record for the men's division of the 36th annual Chicago Marathon Sunday as racers and spectators from across the world enjoyed sunny, cool temperatures.
Marathon organizers said 45,000 people were registered to run, and 40,230 people crossed the start line.
Six months after the Boston Marathon bombings, heightened security was in place for the runners and the more than 1 million people expected to line the streets and watch.
"I think it's on people's minds," said Kevin Bray, 24, who was in Lincoln Park cheering on his sister Colleen for her first marathon. "But I don't feel a smog over [the event]. I think the city did a good job preparing."
The city had said extra law enforcement in uniform and undercover would be in place, and runners wouldn't be allowed to wear large backpacks, though they were allowed packs that held water. They were instead to be issued clear plastic bags for their belongings.
In Pilsen, Steve Topf held up a sign hoping his daughter, 30-year-old Regina Topf of Lakeview, would see it as she neared the Mile 19 marker. In both of the two marathons she's run in the past, her father met her at the bend from Ashland to 18th Street.
"In past years, I ran four miles with her from here," Topf said. "But this year, we can't do that because they've cracked down."
Topf waited for his daughter to hug her, but later got an alert that she had already passed by the Mile 19 marker.
Many ran for a cause. Bray said his sister was running to raise money for Have Dreams, an organization that works to help children with autism. Others, like Bobby Price's girlfriend, Polly, was running for Lincoln Park Zoo.
"She wanted a reason to give back," Price, a 26-year-old Lakeview resident, said as he watched for his girlfriend to pass by.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the city was on hand to help Superior Ambulance Services, a private company that was handling hospital transports for the marathon, but that they didn't appear to make very many transports. Though he couldn't pinpoint the number of people who required medical attention, he said things seemed to run smoothly for this year's marathon, in part due to the mild weather.
Runner Dante Girolimon, 45, said the weather “could not be better.”
He was worried about two weeks ago, when forecasters predicted a potentially rainy marathon day.
But Sunday featured "cool, perfect temperatures,” he said as he stopped for a quick break near Fullerton Avenue and Clark Street in Lincoln Park.
Lincoln Park resident Pierce Smith, 24, ran his first marathon. He said he was proud to take part in the race in his hometown and was impressed with the number of people who came to Chicago from across the world.
“Seeing all these people from different countries, it’s cool to see Chicago as the hub for this, given we lost the Olympics,” he said.
Among the spectators representing their country's roots was Lincoln Park resident Nicolas Merlen, 29, who moved to Chicago from France four years ago.
He and a group of French people now living in Chicago cheered on runners near the 15k mark. Merlen ran the marathon two years ago, and he said he was amazed by how welcoming everyone was.
"When I ran it, I didn't know anybody here, except these guys," Merlen said as he pointed to a few of his fellow French friends watching the runners. "But everyone cheered me on."
Now, he and other French-born Chicagoans greet fellow countrymen at the airport on the Friday before the race and welcome them to the city, he said. About 385 French runners were expected to participate in this year's race.
Zachary Sloan, a 23-year-old accountant who just moved to the city a few months ago was "running his first race ever" Sunday.
"I'm very excited to see all the different parts of Chicago and go through neighborhoods that I wouldn't otherwise have a chance to," the Streeterville resident said. "It's exciting to join this race with all of these other people."
Kenyan Dennis Kimetto set a course record, completing the elite men's division race in 2:03:45, according to unofficial results. He was followed by countrymen Emmanuel Mutai and Sammy Kitwara. American Dathan Ritzenhein finished fifth.
Other unofficial times:
Rita Jeptoo of Kenya finished first in the elite women's division, setting a personal record of 2:19:57.
South African Ernst Van Dyke was the men's winner in the wheelchair division, finishing in 1:30:37. Champaign resident Joshua George came in third with a time of 1:30:38.
In the women's wheelchair division, Champaign resident Tanya McFadden won with a time of 1:42:35. Another Champaign resident, Amanda McGrory, came in third with a time of 1:42:55.
Bethesda, Md., resident Nick Lavery won the handcycle division with a time of 1:40:39.