Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marathon madness

It's time once again for the Chicago Marathon, as we noticed last night on coming back from Evanston from having harvested some solid oak doors that were listed as free on Craigslist.  After that, we stopped by on Devon Street to pick up some Pakistani sweets at Tahoora.  We ended up having to go east on Devon to get away from there, and so I'm looking for a road to turn south on so we can get headed back west to home.  The first good spot turned out to be Ridge, and at that point I was like "We might as well take Lake Shore Drive down to the Loop and take the Eisenhower home".  So we got on LSD and headed south into the Loop.  This is a bit less direct than perhaps desirable, but it avoids a whole lot of stoplights, and of course LSD is a very pretty drive, especially in the fall. 

I had forgotten, of course, that this weekend is the Chicago Marathon.  As a result, Columbus Avenue was completely closed down through Grant Park in preparation for the marathon, and all of the crossovers south of Wacker were closed off.  Instead of being able to quickly cross over at Jackson and get onto Congress for an easy transition to the Eisenhower, we ended up having to go all the way down to 18th, turn around, and loop back onto Roosevelt and take the Des Plaines ramp onto the Ryan.

I've been a bit annoyed with the Marathon of late.  Of course, last year they had "unseasonably warm weather" and ended up having to call the race short, which I thought was kinda silly; I don't recall quitting because of adverse conditions being part of the marathoning spirit.  This year, the weather is also predicted to be "unseasonably warm" (is this global warming?).  But of more annoyance value to me is the marathon's new sponsor, Bank of America.  In prior years the marathon has been sponsored by La Salle Bank, which (of course) was purchased recently by BoA.  As most any Chicagoan knows, La Salle had a long tradition of painting murals on a building immediately adjacent to the Kennedy; these murals have generally been of high artistic standards, featuring seasonally relevant Chicago themes.  The mural in October has generally represented the marathon.  I fully expected BoA to discontinue the mural paintings, but what they did instead was even worse: the mural advertising the marathon is ugly and cartoonish, and includes obvious product placement for BoA, something which La Salle had always eschewed.

In general, the BoA advertising for this marathon has been intrusive and, well, ugly.  In addition to the mural they've put snippets of the ugly marathon on streetside banners in various places around town, and on billboards and the like.  It's interesting to compare this to the Accenture Triathlon, which is held earlier in the summer.  The advertising for that is much more understated; then again, that befits Accenture, which is not exactly in the business of selling its wares directly to the public.  (Disclaimer: I have volunteered at the Accenture Triathlon the past two years.)

The other marathon-related thought is that the Baltimore Marathon was just yesterday; one wonder if anyone is running in both, and if so if they have good life insurance.