CHICAGO — Tens of thousands of runners will take over the streets of Chicago this fall as the Chicago Marathon returns.
For the running community, the marathon’s return is a welcome back to not just a hobby and a lifestyle, but to life as we once knew it.
“It’s been part of my life for 13 years now every year, so I’m looking forward to this one,” runner Mike Helffrich said.
Helffrich is a seasoned marathoner who began training for the event on Monday, joining 35,000 other individuals getting ready for the return of the marathon after 2020’s event was virtual.
“It’s almost like the first time again with all that’s been going on with COVID and the lack of races,” Helffrich said.
The event is slightly scaled back this year, making runners anxious to get a spot at the starting line.
Event organizers worked closely with city leaders to come up with safety measures, including asking participants for proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.
“I would say be prepared that we may ask participants in certain areas to wear masks but we’ll continue taking lead from local guidance,” executive race director Carey Pinkowski said.
Race officials plan to send out an update on any modifications to the marathon in August. For runners, any changes won’t veer them off course.
“The energy of the Chicago Marathon in a normal year is very, very exciting and there’s nothing like it, and I think this year is going to be another notch,” Helffrich said.
The Bud Billiken Parade also returns to Chicago in August, holding new safety measures including testing, wellness checks and potential mask requirements.