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11/13/2007 07:34 PM Loading “Document View” Page 1 of 8 Databases selected: National Newspaper Abstracts (3), Research Library The Chicago marathon and urban renaissance Andrew Suozzo . Journal of Popular Culture . Bowling Green: Summer 2002. Vol. 36, Iss. 1; pg. 142, 18 pgs Abstract (Summary) In the new marathon phenomenon, Chicago provides a particularly dramatic example of how sport is absolutely central to the enactment of urban and self-promotion as the city strives to secure itself a place of high visibility in the world community. Full Text (6027 words) Copyright Popular Culture Association Summer 2002 Marathon racing has experienced exceptional growth since the eighties, and that growth in the nineties might be characterized without exaggeration as explosive. The La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon actually more than tripled its number of finishers from 1995 to 2000, increasing from 8,582 to 27,956. In this sense, Chicago exemplifies an international boom in marathon racing in which many of the world's largest cities now host small armies of runners. New York, London, Paris, and Berlin can boast fields ranging up to more than 30,000 participants. Indeed, marathons, unlike many other races, are nearly always associated with major cities. The huge volunteer commitment needed to hold a successful marathon is rarely available outside an urban setting, and spectator support requires a dense population with easy access to a lengthy course. Despite the extraordinary disruption these races cause, most major cities relish marathons because of the prestige and recognition such events confer. They are image-builders that enable cities to compete with one another in the quest for tourist dollars; marathons allow cities to send a message of affluence and celebration to the larger world beyond their limits. In many ways, a city without a major marathon is a city that has not arrived. Chicago's case is particularly instructive because, only after a somewhat shaky history in the eighties and early nineties, did its marathon come together to the point that it can now attain world supremacy in the number of participants.1 This meteoric rise closely follows Chicago's dramatic recovery from a "rust belt" city whose future was in grave doubt to a revitalized metropolis capable of retaining an affluent citizenry and attracting a wellheeled body of tourists. The synergy that brought Chicago's marathon to life came principally from three sources: 1) the sports/running community under the leadership of a new marathon race director, Carey Pinkowski, 2) the corporate community in the form of new sponsorship, the LaSalle Banks,2 and 3) the political community through the support of an ambitious new mayor, Richard M. Daley. As Chicago moved out of its economic doldrums, the success of its marathon became one of the natural indicators of renewed urban health, which was becoming very apparent in highly appreciated real-estate
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sm111 - Loading "Document View" 11/13/2007 07:34...

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