Kenya's Erick Kimalyo sat in his black warmups at Thursday afternoon's Chicago Marathon news conference with his legs crossed and camera in hand.
While photographers snapped picture after picture of Kimalyo and the 20 other runners at the conference, Kimalyo snapped pictures right back, documenting his first trip to Chicago.
Kimalyo will join 15 of his countrymen and some of the fastest runners from the rest of the world in the field of 25,000 at the 22nd Chicago Marathon on Sunday, which will be broadcast on tape delay in the Washington area at noon on HTS.
The Chicago course is notoriously fast, but Kimalyo and the other runners are worried about something else the city is known for--wind. The forecast for the start is a blustery 30 degrees with possible lake-effect snow.
"When the wind is really strong, it's really hard to run," said Kimalyo. "There's nothing you can really do about it."
Said Todd Williams, one of the top U.S. runners in the field, "I went running this morning and it felt like my face was smashed against a wall with the wind." Still, Williams said he hopes to finish in under 2 hours 10 minutes. His previous best is 2:11:17.
Thanks to generally mild racing weather, a flat course, and a $400,000 prize purse loaded with time incentives, Chicago draws top runners and is the third-fastest marathon in the world, just 30 seconds slower on average than first-place Berlin.
The course starts just north of Soldier Field and winds through some of Chicago's most diverse neighborhoods, including Greektown, Little Italy and Chinatown.
If there is a favorite, it is Morocco's Khalid Khannouchi, who finished second in last year's race and set a personal best of 2:07:10 in winning the 1997 race. Defending champion Ondoro Osoro of Kenya, whose debut in 2:06:54 was the fastest-ever first-time marathon, returns to face a field that includes world record holder Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil.
On the women's side, defending champion Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya and Catherina McKiernan of Ireland are the favorites.