How to Cover Two Abbott World Marathon Majors in One Weekend . . . Can It Be Done?

By Karen Mitchell

Earlier this year, marathon aficionados learned that the 125th Boston Marathon would run on October 11 and the 43rd Chicago Marathon would keep its normal slot, this year on October 10. Big marathons are back!

The dilemma: Which marathon should we cover? We normally cover both of them each year, but in April and October. Both are world marathon majors and both have amazing athletes. Both are in beautiful and interesting cities. We will have awesome photo opps at each. We will see friends in both locations. Shalane Flanagan is doing both.

We couldn’t decide, but we may have found a way to do both. Of course, the best laid plans . . . we shall see.

Step 1: Drive to Providence, RI. (Thursday)

Step 2: Take train (the T) to Boston to pick up media credentials and attend the pro-athlete press conference. (Friday morning)

Step 3: Head to PVD airport for plane to Chicago. (Friday afternoon)

Step 4: Land in Chicago and stay with dear friends, Gary and Eileen. (Friday night)

Step 5: Pick up media credentials for Chicago Marathon. (Saturday afternoon)

Step 6: Take the Blue Line into Chicago again to photograph the marathon. (Sunday morning, marathon day)

Step 7: Fly back to PVD.

Step 6: Drive to Boston (Monday morning, marathon day) Photograph the marathon and attend the press conference.

Any step of the itinerary can go wrong and fingers crossed 🤞 that it works. We’ll let you know.

The Saga

The drive to Providence was great. Train to Boston all good. But we were notified before the trip that the press conference would be 2 pm Friday instead of the usual Friday morning time slot, meaning we would be unable to attend. We were also notified that members of the media would need to go to a tent to provide proof of vaccination, and be issued a bracelet which must be worn for all days and events in Boston. We imagined whether we would be in line for hours.

But it was efficient and quick, which is expected with Dave McGillivray – DMSE Sports at the helm.

(Story continues below the pictures.)

All runners, volunteers, and media members need to have vaccination proof verified.
Check-in process at Boylston and Dartmouth in Copley Plaza.
Katelynne Bazile, our friendly volunteer, checks us in with a smile.
Karen Mitchell after completing vaccination verification process. All runners, volunteers, and media will go through this process.

Here a few more photos from a stunningly beautiful day in Boston. (Story continues below the pictures.)

Boston Marathon 2021 a sign of normalcy
Boston in the Fall: Former champions are recognized on banners throughout the city.
Boston Commons.
Church of the Covenant in Back Bay
Sale of marathon merchandise at Copley Square under old and new architecture.

We are heading to The Windy City this evening and will update our story, with photos, as it develops.

Stay tuned.

Saturday Update: Chicago

Friday evening’s flight to Chicago was as expected, always good with air travel, and Saturday morning we took the L into the city. We received Chicago’s version of the vaxx proof – red, white, and blue – and our media credentials. We walked around the city to re-check our planned photography spots since the last Chicago Marathon was two years ago.

We’re enjoying a visit with our friends very much, another thing that’s waited for two years.

We did learn today that we are slackers, compared to Jordan Tropf of Baltimore, who is doing an “American trifecta.” He finished 2nd at Baltimore Marathon today in 2:27:23. Tomorrow he’ll do Chicago and Monday he’ll be finishing his trifecta at Boston. We know Jordan from photographing him at Baltimore Marathon when he won it in 2017, and at various other races. Read more: Boston Globe

It was another beautiful weather day and here are some shots from Chicago.

(Story continues below the pictures.)

Tomorrow’s office; we will need our credential.
Double wristbands of Chicago and Boston mean that we are approved and vaccinated.
Agora, 106 cast iron figures created in Poland by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Railyards near the Grant Park finish line in Chicago.
Getting around is often on the L.
All a go on 10.10.21.
Chinatown, between Mile 21 and 22 on the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course.
An aviary on a Chicago building on S. Michigan Ave.

Stay tuned, More later.

Sunday update: Chicago Marathon and a flight to Boston

A bit of drama today with a late change of plans.

Another beautiful day, although hot if you were running. It was generally overcast, with a bit of sun and some light rain at times. We photographed at three different spots: near the historic Chicago Theatre; on LaSalle St; and in Chinatown. It’s hard to explain the joy we feel in moving around a city on foot, with cameras.

Some great American performances: Men: Galen Rupp, 2nd, 2:06:35; Colin Mickow, 6th, 2:13:31; Nico Montanez, 7th, 2:13:55. Women: Emma Bates, 2nd, 2:24:20; Sara Hall, 3rd, 2:27:19; Keira D’Amato, 4th, 2:28:22; Maegan Krifchin, 6th, 2:30:17. Shalane Flanagan continued her marathon majors by finishing Chicago in 2:46:39. She’ll run Boston on Monday. We’ll have full coverage of Chicago Marathon in a separate article.

While on the L, heading back to Oak Park, the drama started. (Think Southwest Airlines, which reportedly cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend.) Our flight to Boston was cancelled, with no other Southwest flights available until Tuesday.

Back in Oak Park, the two of us with our friends, Gary and Eileen (thank you!!), were on four separate devices checking all airlines that fly out of Chicago. It took about an hour before we found one available, very expensive middle seat on United Airlines, scheduled to leave in an hour and a half! Quick decision, Gary drove Clay to O’Hare – immediately. He got his seat, but not before United staff decided more people than seats had boarded, and Clay and three others were booted. When the staff asked about luggage, Clay was selected to reboard because he had a carry-on only.

Karen has a flight Monday afternoon and will miss Boston for the first time in years. And there was a bit of additional drama that we won’t go into.

So can it be done? Yes, of course. We knew from the beginning that the worst-case scenario would be a flight cancellation on Sunday evening – and it happened.

Thanks for reading. See our race coverage of Chicago and Boston in separate articles. KM and CJS

The historic Chicago theater
Fans are awesome at Chicago Marathon.
Our final Chicago office was Chinatown between Miles 21 and 22.
Chinatown between Miles 21 and 22
This young woman was shooting film. Enjoyed talking with her and hope she’ll keep in touch.
Chicago Marathon fans posed for us.
This family was rooting for a couple of the runners and hung out with us.

Categories: Race Coverage

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