Sunday, October 10, 2004

Chicago Marathon

The first came around 8:00 AM. A broad shoulder guy in a wheelchair propelling himself with bicycle-like pedals that he was maneuvering with his hands, relentlessly. The crowd is thin at this early time and I am half asleep. Watching the spectacle from the window of the guestroom in my friend S's apartment.
I have never seen a marathon, let alone ran into one.
I hear the cheers before I see them: Seven magnificent runners effortlessly coming down the street. They are running one behind the other, one white guy surrounded by 6 black guys. Bouncing smoothly on the pavement in a up-and-down barely perceptible, as if they were constantly above ground. As if floating was their natural state.
There are pictures taken but the crowd is only polite in its response to the champs. Not enthusiastic. The shouts came later. About half and hour later. When the runners are mere humans, already suffering from their extended effort, when the colors of their shirt are so diverse that they look from above as a waving pointillist painting.
The couple in the apartment in front is cheering people from their opened window. I can see the guy raising up from his bed, barely covered. He disappears from my view and comes back a bit later with a plate of what looks like cut fruits. The two eat slowly, each picking in turn something from the plate and then they cheer loudly. They must have recognized someone they know. They wave, the guy waves back. He is gone.
A small girl all dressed in pink is standing on the sidewalk with her parents. She is painting a large sign that says "Go Phil! Go!". Phil shows up eventually. He is a young guy with a large smile and I hear "Thank you guys for coming!". He stands up next to the sign, they snap pictures. He is about to resume running when he bends in front of the little girl and gives her what looks like a small package. He tells her very seriously "I've been carrying it all the way for you!". The little girl is hiding into her dad's legs now. She will probably remember this marathon...
I hear someone shout "I love you baby!". It's not clear if this was directed to anyone in particular. One guy gets a bear hug from a woman standing on the sidewalk. He resumes soon afterwards and she gets back on the sidewalk.
When I get back to the window about an hour later, the soothing of the motion is gone: the circus is in town. One guy wearing a Superman outfit, one with a giant wig, another with a large American flag. A juggler. The crowd now is shouting encouragements to the participants. They are not really runners anymore. People in all shape and size. Inch by inch getting closer from the finish line. Trying hard. Suffering. My peers.


Post a Comment

<< Home