Mass Start 3Whirl and I got up early this morning to see the start of the Chicago Marathon. And when I say early, I mean early. The sun was not yet up when we headed up to Millennium Park. I had hoped to shoot the start of the race from the BP Bridge. I am a fan of the bridge and its architect, Frank Gehry. This morning I was not a fan of When I arrived an inconvenient sign notified me that only credentialed media photographers would be granted access. I briefly considered trying to flash my Chicago Tribune badge. While having drinks with Genaro Molina and Myung J. Chun, photographers from the Los Angeles Times, at this year’s political conventions, Genaro informed me that often the company ID badge is all the credential he has needed to gain access to shoot. So I thought about it. And then thought better of it– slinking off to shoot from the Randolph Street bridge with the rest of the great unwashed.

While waiting for the race, we caught a rare glimpse of two of the peregrine falcons Whirl monitors for the Field Museum. They were circling above us, maybe forty of fifty stories up between the Aon Tower and the Prudential Building.

As the warm morning light came over the trees, thirty-five thousand people took off in a mass for the start of this year’s marathon. I was not there to cheer on anyone in particular. No one I know personally was running this year; I just wanted to be a part of the start of it. To get a few pictures and enjoy one of the last great weekends outside before autumn turns to a cold winter.

Superheroes (and a Villain)The race route traveled through twenty-nine Chicago neighborhoods. I took a number of pictures along the start on Columbus before moving to the LaSalle Street bridge. There I took a few more pictures and asked Whirl if she wanted to hop the el down to Chinatown to catch up to the leaders. But by this point she was getting hungry so we settled for a quiet breakfast at the South Water Kitchen before making our way home.

I’m not sure I’ll ever garner enough courage to try a marathon. I am fairly certain I have the endurance for it, if I put my mind to it. I’m less confident about surviving the pounding my feet and legs would take. — And I’d need to drop the rest of this weight I’ve been steadily taking off over the past year. Nonetheless, the difference between walking twenty-six miles and running them is pretty big. Still, it was impressive to see this many people test themselves against a true test of strength and willpower. For those of you who did run: I applaud you.

Well done!