Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Quinn, Duckworth Get Mileage Out Of Marathon

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The Governor of Illinois, President of Bank of America and Chicago Marathon Race Director all turn out to honor Moses Mosop and Liliya Shobukhova.

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Did you see the finish of Sunday’s Chicago Marathon? If so, you probably had your eyes fixed on 26-year-old Moses Mosop, who set a course record by winning the race in 2:05:37. But the governor’s office hopes you were looking to Mosop’s left, at the big white guy in the baseball cap, holding the finishing tape. It was Gov. Pat Quinn, who managed to get a marathon photo op without running a step.

Quinn used to be a runner -- he was captain of the cross-country team at Fenwick High School in Oak Park -- and he has remained a track and field fan, as well as a fan of photo ops with track stars.

As lieutenant governor, he hosted a reunion of nine of the 14 Illinoisans who’d run a 4-minute mile, which was billed as “the planet’s largest gathering of humans who have broken the four-minute mile barrier.” (There was actually a larger gathering, of mile record holders, at the Grosvenor Hotel in London in 1994.) The convention included Olympians Rick Wohlhuter and Jim Spivey. (Craig Virgin was Illinois’s greatest distance runner -- he broke Steve Prefontaine’s high school two-mile record and won the World Cross-Country Championships -- but he never competed seriously in the mile.)

The politician who got the most mileage out of the Chicago marathon was Tammy Duckworth, who’s running for Congress in the 8th District.

Duckworth was one of 11 athletes -- and the only woman -- competing in the marathon’s handcycle division. She finished in 2:09:26. Handcyclists operate three-wheeled vehicles with a chain and gears, as opposed to wheelchair racers, who propel themselves in two-wheeled, one-speed vehicles. Duckworth was not the only wounded veterans who handcycled the marathon: Dan Casara of Chicago finished in 1:35:42.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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