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Inspired by Marathon, Couple Take 26.2-Mile Walk Through Chicago

By Mauricio Peña | October 13, 2014 1:51pm
 Roscoe Village couple embarked on a DIY-marathon through the city of Chicago on Satuday.
Kate Silver
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ROSCOE VILLAGE — A Roscoe Village couple decided to take a long stroll through the city this weekend — a 26.2-mile stroll.

Inspired by marathon fever and a recent trip to San Francisco, Kate Silver, 37, and her boyfriend Neil Ballentine, 38, grabbed a pedometer, a camera and headphones Saturday and headed outside with no set route.

"We never even considered putting the headphones on," Silver said in an email. "The streets of Chicago provide constant entertainment."

In a blog posted Sunday, Silver wrote about how the idea of walking 26.2 miles came about after a trip to San Francisco in July, where she and Ballentine set out to find the best tacos in the Mission District.

"We just kept walking, and eating and looking at art and exploring along the way," Silver said in an email. "Neil had recently upgraded his phone and had a pedometer, so were able to track how far we'd gone. By the end of the day, we'd hit 19 miles. We called it a night. But in the process, we talked about how 26.2 miles seemed fairly attainable. We decided when we got back to Chicago, we'd do it. We dubbed it, 'The World's Slowest Marathon.'"

Silver and Ballentine set out at 9:20 a.m. Saturday with the plan to make that 26.2-mile journey a reality while enjoying their surroundings.

"It’s not the first time we’ve done a physical challenge in the name of exploration. A few years ago, we rode our bikes from Chicago to Canada," Silver said.

"Walking, though, you see things differently. It’s more visceral. You’re going slowly enough to really take in all the nooks and crannies of the city. The 26.2 miles added an element of challenge to it. We’d be undertaking a distance that’s usually associated with elite athletes, but we’d approach it at a pace and route that made sense to us."

Ballentine said: "The aim was to let the adventure unfold as we walked. With no set agenda or route, we were free to experience whatever came across our path."

Their journey took them throughout the city including Lincoln Park, the UIC campus, Pilsen, Hoosier Mama on Chicago Avenue for a slice of maple pecan pie, and the Boiler Room in Logan Square.

Silver and Bellantine's favorite part of their "World's Slowest marathon" was their walk through Pilsen, where they stumbled upon an art walk.

After 11 hours and 56 minutes, Silver and Ballentine returned to Roscoe Village, with a greater a appreciation of the city.

"There’s something liberating about not having a set path and designing your own route along the way. I’ve spent five years in Chicago and recently wrote a guidebook on the city (Frommer’s 2015 EasyGuide to Chicago). As much as I know this place, I love that I can spend nearly 12 hours exploring and still feel as though I’m discovering it for the first time."

Despite the slow pace, the distance itself was nothing to scoff at: Silver spent Sunday icing her sore knee, and the duo was still hurting on Monday.

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