Nine hundred and seventeen. That’s the number of miles that stretch between the start of the very first Chicago Marathon in 1977 and the finish line of the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. There are only eight people in the world who have run at all 35 events – and two of those runners are Randy Burt and Larry Moon. Proudly sporting the Chicago Marathon Alumni Runner title, they look forward to another 26.2 miles at the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. “It’s a positive thing, and it feels so good when you cross the finish line; because, in my book, finishing a marathon is success,” says Burt.
The Learning Curve
Burt and Moon both acknowledge the substantial learning curve they faced when they gave the first Chicago Marathon a try. “I'd only been running a short time when I thought, ‘Someday, if I really like this, maybe I'll run a marathon,’” said Moon. “At that point, they announced the marathon, and I thought it'd be fun to say I ran in the first Chicago Marathon.”
That year, neither knew how to properly train for a marathon. They showed up in the wrong clothing. They started out too fast and struggled to finish. Now, Moon and Burt are seasoned runners who have watched the race grow into a world-class event. “In the early days, it wasn't that important,” said Moon, a 63-time marathon runner. “But, it's become a world event now. Chicago is recognized as one of the top marathons, and it is.”
Burt, who has completed 72 marathons, agrees. “This is a world-class event in a world-class city. It has exceptional support from the spectators, the folks in the neighborhoods. It’s not only positive for the runners, but also it’s positive for people living in those communities.”
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Despite the slower pace nowadays, they continue to look forward to future marathons. Moon, who jokes that his run looks more like a walk these days, takes it year by year, motivated by the exhilaration of crossing the finish line. “It keeps me going ‘til the next year,” he said. For Burt, there’s a larger goal in mind. “As long as I can control injuries, we’ll think about where we go after 50 Chicago Marathons. Fifty is a starting point,” he said.