While Chicago’s reputation for being a Windy City didn’t live up to its name for last weekend’s Chicago Marathon, the tens of thousands of runners, including Andy Beardsley of Surry, certainly felt quite the chill.
Even though temperatures never peaked above the mid-40s, that didn’t stop the 45-year-old Ellsworth High cross country coach from running an outstanding time of 2 hours, 37 minutes, 24 seconds, placing 139 overall and first in the 45 to 49 age group.
“I was surprised that I had won my age group, I figured there’d be a few others [contending],” Beardsley said.
He finished nearly three minutes ahead of his closest competitor, 45-year-old Jose Fernando Blanco of Panama.
Beardsley was happy with his effort over the 26.2-mile course.
“For me that’s pretty good, especially as I get older,” he said. “It gets harder every year, I was really happy to break six-minute [per mile] pace.”
Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya won the marathon with a record-setting time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 41 seconds, while Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova was the women’s winner in 2:25:56.
More than 30,000 runners finished the race.
Beardsely was running for a good cause, supporting the American Cancer Society, which hits close to home, as his mother died of the disease and two of his nephews are currently battling it.
Several people from the community wound up sponsoring Beardsley for the race, and he raised $2,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“They have over 15-20 different organizations that have people running for an organization, whether it be leukemia or other cancers or diabetes, all different ones, and I picked the American Cancer Society,” said Beardsley.
The Chicago Marathon, like many big-name races, is trying to get runners to race for charities such as the American Cancer Society, and Beardsley decided to step up to the starting line.
He has battled tightness in his hamstrings in past marathons, so he made sure that didn’t happen early in Chicago.
“I didn’t try and do anything stupid, I made sure I hydrated every two miles and just tried not to do anything that might get them to tighten,” he said.
Beardsley didn’t stay for the awards ceremony to collect his medal for winning his age class, but he’s hoping the race staff will ship it to him eventually.
“Maybe I’ll e-mail them and find out,” he said.
Since the race started at 7:30 a.m. and awards around noon, Beardsley elected to head back to his father’s Chicago home, where he was staying, and warm up after a chilly race.
Beardsley considered entering the race about five or six months ago. He realized he could attend because it would fall on the Sunday of Columbus Day weekend and that Ellsworth was racing in the Hancock County cross country championships the Friday before the marathon.
Many of the Eagles were aware their coach was competing in Chicago.
“They made a little poster when I got back which was really nice, the kids and faculty members are all very supportive,” Beardsley said.
He pounded 60-mile weeks to prepare for the race, training with his kids and assistant coach Louie Luchini, who has won half-marathons in Bar Harbor and Portland this fall.
“I would run with the kids at practice then do a little bit [more] after practice,” Beardsley said.
The Chicago course is fairly flat, and since the lead women, including top U.S. marathoner Deena Kastor, started at a tactical pace, they were in Beardsley’s sights early in the race.
He’s not sure if he’ll run in this weekend’s MDI Marathon.
“If I do it I would just jog it slowly,” Beardsley said. “I’ve done every MDI Marathon and my legs actually feel pretty good.”