Sunday, October 13, 2013

Seeing the World from the Race Course

Runners weaved through Chicago's streets, waving at and cheering along with thousands of spectators, pushing themselves as hard as they can to reach that finish line. And as difficult as it is to run 26.2 miles, the beauty, vibrancy and excitement that surrounds them on the course, helps make the journey a little bit easier.
Chicago Marathon. Credit: AP

The Chicago Marathon loops through more than 20 different neighborhoods, exposing runners to the wide variety of cultures and colors in the city. From the modern greeneries of Millennium Park to the vintage brownstones of Old Town; the rainbow banners of Boystown to the architectural gems of the Loop; the vivid artistry of Pilsen to the oriental monuments of Chinatown. All ending with the final turn  that will take them to the finish line in iconic Grant Park. In one day, you can experience a remarkable amount of the city.
Running through the loop. Credit: AP

I've never been interested in running a full marathon, but I do like the idea of using a race as a reason to go somewhere new and get to see a city from a different angle. Luckily, I have others who share that sentiment. My boyfriend and I signed up for a half marathon in Nashville next April, and I cannot wait to visit the country music capital of the nation. The course starts next to Vanderbilt University, runs down West End Avenue and past the Country Music Hall of Fame, through various neighborhoods, past Bicentennial Park and ends across the river from City Hall. I'll definitely see a lot while running, but I'll see even more when I get the chance to explore Nashville after the finish. Since the race is on a Saturday, we can spend the afternoon being tourists, checking out the attractions and learning more about the city.

I hope to do more trips like this, where I can combine a race with a small vacation. Because I really think it's a wonderful way to experience a new place.

A marathon--or any race length--opens you up to a different world, whether it's in a new place or if you've been there before. As a runner, I can say with confidence that each stretch of the path is different, despite running it numerous times.

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