CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - The Chicago Marathon is expected to draw more than 40,000 competitors by the time it gets started Sunday morning.
The runners come from 240 different countries and all 50 states, according to race officials.
Weather conditions are expected to be optimal for running.
Gene Ferriter, 51, said he decided to compete after watching a friend run a marathon in Ireland. The last time he completed a race, it was the annual Half Madness in Batavia. From west suburban Elgin, he was staying at a hotel in the city with his family, and said he was ready for a bigger challenge.
“I've worked out most of my life and it helps you age better, and hopefully, live a longer, healthier life,” Ferriter said.
It will be his first time competing in the Chicago Marathon. His daughter, Shannon, will be cheering him on the entire time.
Race officials expected 1.7 million people to watch along the race route.
“He is 51, but he's in much better shape than me at 51, so I guess it's pretty impressive,” Shannon Ferriter said with a chuckle.
The marathon is in its 41st year, and promises to be competitive. The race will force closures from 35th St. south, west to Damen Ave., and north to Sheridan Rd.
Road closures will go into effect at 7 a.m., and won’t open in The Loop until 9 a.m., officials said. Roads will re-open along the entire course at about 6 p.m.
Among notable competitors will be comedian and actor Kevin Hart, running the Chicago Marathon for the first time.
Competitors can choose to fuel up for race day at one of several restaurants offering runners a chance to load up on carbohydrates.
“Every year we do pasta, fettucine [and] gnocchi,” said Martial Noguier, executive chef and co-owner of Bistronomic in Gold Coast.
The restaurant was offering a special menu of pasta dishes all weekend, their eighth year offering the choices.
"I think we secretly dreamed we would one day run the marathon and we keep comforting each other by eating the pasta,” said co-owner Lolo Noguier.
And though Gene Ferriter said this year’s marathon would be his last, he said it gave him the opportunity to cross it off his bucket list.
“My mom and dad were big runners,” he said. “They're not around anymore so this is kind of for them.”