LSB Chicago at the Crossroads

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Next year, there will be several major changes at the La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon, there will be at least two crucial changes: the footwear and apparel sponsor and the title sponsor. How will that affect the race?

The LSB Chicago Marathon is at a crossroads, and this next era will be a fascinating thing to watch. Cary Pinkowski and Mike Nishi, two of the primary moving forces in the marathon, have developed a great team and the relationship with the city, their title sponsor and their other sponsors. Most importantly, Chicago has developed its reputation as a race that cares about the citizen runner. In a time period when New York was in transisiton, Chicago grew and prospered.

Pinkowksi and Nishi developed LSB Chicago as a race that treated its elite with care and its citizen runners with care. It has had and still has, hands down, the best, and most innovative Runners' Expo in the business. The Expo has all of the footwear companies, plus many of the smaller running product companies. Races love the LSB Expo. The ability to walk down the aisles, places to sit and relax do not exist in the other major races--Chicago has this down.

Next year, Nike will be the footwear sponsor. To their credit, they had a team in analyzing the race and seeing where the event can be improved. New Balance has been the title sponsor for six years, and their apparel and booth has been a couple of the highest points of the event each year. NB was lucky enough to have some great runners win the races each year. How Nike's involvement will change the race will remain to be seen. The opportunities to learn from the consumer at Chicago, the opps to reach and learn from the mid pack runner could be a benefit to Nike as it tries to get back some of the marketshare it has lost in the specialty running community.

The question will be Bank of America. The purchase of Abn Amro and its spinning off of La Salle Bank is heartbreaking for many. LSB has been a great corporate citizen in Chicago--will Bank of America do the same? That will be a question that remains open over the next few years.

This year, Cary Pinkowski is challenged by the weather. The race management has done all that it can to take care of the 45,000 runners that are out there. We will see
how it plays out next year.

The elite race will be exciting. My picks? Gharib of Morocco, Lee Bong Ju of Korea look good to me. Felix Limo is dangerous and knows how to finish strong.

On the women's side, I think the race is wide open. The hot weather will even things out.

With temps at a predicted 88 degrees tommorow, the LSB Chicago, after 30 years, will have a very hot year.

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