Huffing and puffing down the final stretch, Sammy Wanjiru fought high temperatures and exhaustion Sunday as he neared the finish line. While pointing to the sky and waving to the crowd, the Kenyan Olympic Gold Medalist held up two fingers to symbolize his second straight victory at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
But Wanjiru wasn’t the only winner this weekend. So was the city of Chicago.
Due to its national and international draw, the marathon helped raise $10 million for various charities and gave a $150 million boost to the economy of its host city, according to a report by the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign’s Regional Economics Applications Laboratory.
Approximately 10,000 of the 45,000 marathon participants are raising money for more than 150 nonprofit organizations. These organizations include local, national and global causes.
At the opening press conference Thursday, Bank of America announced a $500,000 contribution to the Chicago Youth Fitness Initiative, a fitness program located throughout the city aimed at keeping kids safe and active after school.
The bank also announced The Mayor Richard M. Daley and Maggie Daley Award, given annually to the marathon participant who raises the most funds for charity through the marathon.
“Bank of America is pleased to build upon Mayor Daley’s and his wife Maggie’s commitment to Chicago’s youth, and we thank them for their partnership in this and so many activities,” said Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan. “Through our everyday lending, investing and giving, we are helping set opportunity in motion across this great city.”
This contribution adds to the $324,000 donation Bank of America made to the initiative in March.
“I particularly appreciate what Bank of America has built with the Chicago Youth Fitness Initiative,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley. “This program provides innovative and constructive ways to improve the quality of life for our city’s young people and future leaders.”
Daley added, “In my two decades in office, I have watched the marathon continue to contribute in a positive way to this city — both in economic growth and support for the nonprofit sector.”
This year’s event drew participants from all 50 states and over 120 countries. The 45,000 participant capacity was filled in a record 51 days.
In addition to those running for charity and other causes, the marathon also attracted some of the best runners in the world.
“The depth of talent in the marathon was at an all-time high at the national and international levels,” said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “These athletes were hungry to compete against one another and this year’s field brought a new level of excitement to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.”
However, this doesn’t mean the strenuous course didn’t have a negative effect on the world’s elite.
“I’m not sure if I’ll compete next month at the New York City Marathon,” said men’s second place finisher Tsegaye Kebede. “I’m a little tired.”