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Chicago marathoners: Take tight turns — or risk longer run

 Runners head north LaSalle St. during 2011 Chicago Marathon. | Sun-Times files

Runners head north on LaSalle St. during the 2011 Chicago Marathon. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: October 11, 2013 6:02AM

Attention Bank of America Chicago Marathon runners who signed up to run 26.2 miles and not a step further: Take tight turns.

Runners who don’t hug the 36 turns along the marathon route could unwittingly add up to a half mile to their race, resulting in unwanted extra minutes to their finishing time, according to rough calculations by Jay Wight, who measures Chicago’s course for USA Track and Field and, for the first time Friday, put some thought into the matter.

“Over a course that long, with that many turns, if you’re not running the tightest line, you’re going to be adding significant distance,” said Wight.

Marathon rookies are especially vulnerable.

“Beginners have a tendency to drift,” said marathon guru and author Hal Higdon. “Concentration is not easy for 26 miles.”

But choosing the perfect line is not always possible while navigating hordes of runners. A total of 45,000 people are signed up for the Oct. 13 race.

“The packs are so large that you can’t necessarily run where you want to run until things get spread out,” said Wight.

Bottlenecks have been known to form around early turns.

“Sometimes the straight line isn’t the fastest line,” said Higdon. “Basically you sort of have to think ahead and try to anticipate in advance.”

As of Tuesday, runners have 33 days to prepare.


Twitter: @mitchdudek

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