This was going to be my 15th and last race of the year, something that would give some relief to my wife who very patiently had to put up with my crazy marathon schedule throughout the year. Also, since I had consumed plenty of vacation time through the year, I had no choice but to limit the journey to 3 days. By now, I was used to these sort of travels, having endured the pain in the early part of the year during my World Record challenge.
I reached Chicago O'Hare airport on Friday evening after a 20 hour flight from Doha. The cheapest and most convenient way to get to the hotel downtown was via the train. This was a five dollar ride, which ended up being quite memorable. While on the train, I met a group of runners ( two couples) who were from the west coast and knew their way around Chicago. They were thrilled to find out that I had come all the way from Qatar for the weekend to take part in the marathon. The friendship quickly developed and they went out of their way to find out the exact location of my hotel and guided me appropriately, Not only that, Roland and Ivan came by my hotel the next day to drop off VIP passes for hospitality tent. That's what I call American hospitality at its best. The hotel was just great, very centrally located in the heart of downtown Chicago. I was supposed to share a room with another runner but apparently he cancelled last minute, so I got a private room to myself.
The next morning, buses were parked outside our hotel to take us to the marathon expo. The planning by the race organizers was impeccable, I collected my race kit, walked around the expo and then later returned back to the hotel to chill.
"Chuck Norris never ran a marathon"
"If marathons were easy, it would be called your mom"
"HURRY, the Kenyans are finishing all the beer"
Later that day, I chilled out in my hotel room and then made my way to the airport the following morning to catch the long flight back to Doha. I reached Doha the following day just in time to celebrate Eid with the family!
All in all, it was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Perhaps, I will return to Chicago again one day to run it all over again!