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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Chicago Day 3

Chicago Marathon Expo

Overnight the forecast rain had arrived. When I looked out in the morning I saw how heavy it was coming down and wondered how this would affect the marathon Sunday. If it was raining like this it would not be pleasant to run in for over three hours. It didn’t help that I knew thunderstorms were forecast as well.

Not wanting to go too far, we had breakfast at the Starbucks next door once more. We both had the same as the day before - I think perhaps they were the most appetising of the options.

The main task for today was for me to collect my race number from the Chicago Marathon Expo at McCormick Place. It wouldn’t be a pleasant journey in the rain, but it had to be done. Sometimes though, just sometimes, luck is on our side. Today it was as by the time we’d started our walking for the say the rain had almost stopped, and by the time we’d walked the best part of a mile to the bus stop, it had.

Marathon expo

At McCormick Place we had to queue for security before we could enter. This was a quick wave of a wand, and then checking my details to point me in the direction of where I needed to collect number. Once I’d got my number I then had to walk halfway across the expo to collect my t-shirt and bag.

I didn’t really have a proper look around the expo, but did get to have some free muesli , and had a go on a treadmill where they would see how long you can keep up with Eliud Kipchoge for. The idea is that you do it for a maximum of 200 metres, so it seemed like it wouldn’t really have too big an impact on my legs readiness for the marathon. Unfortunately I found it difficult to keep at the right speed - it felt like I should be sprinting, but kept overshooting the area so they gave up on me.

Treadmill running

With nothing else we wanted see, we walked to the Clark House and Glessner House museums. These were about twenty minutes walk away so it wasn’t worth jumping on a bus for - if one even went that way. Both of these offer tours, but they weren’t on as we were there. That was okay though - my plan had been to photograph them on passing as a slight diversion on the way to the Soldier Field and the Field Museum.

Walking to the field museum

Before we reached the Soldier Field we sat down to give our legs some rest - there’d be a lot more walking soon. In the Field Museum, another of the places on our CityPass, we started with the exhibition on Antarctica. If I’m honest it wasn’t great, but their exhibition on the Ancient Americas was much better. After these we headed downstairs to eat the lunch we’d been carrying with us.

In the afternoon we had a look around the Ancient Egypt exhibition, and then the one on ancient mummies. We’d had enough of walking by this point so decided to make the chinese exhibition the last one we saw.

Ancient Egyptian casket

To get to the Adler Planetarium we had to pass the Shedd Aquarium. Both of these are ones we could visit on our CityPass, but it was the Planetarium we wanted to see more - we’d see everything we wanted and then use the remaining time at the aquarium.

Our plans soon changed as we found the exhibitions in the planetarium to not be that interesting, so after only twenty minutes we decided we should move on. The aquarium would be closing in a little over an hour, so not a bad decision.

Adler Planetarium

We’d arrived just as the ‘4D Shark Experience’ video was about to start, so we headed to their theatre as quickly as possible. Now, our biggest question was - what do they mean by 4D? To many people, a fourth dimension is considered time - but when you modelling the universe you’re likely to have far more than four dimensions. Not long into the video we found out what the the difference was to normal 3D - they spray water at you, and make the seats vibrate every now and then.


After the video we watched some Beluga Whales swimming and breaching the water; though had to be careful where we stood. If we leant over the rails with our camera, or in fact stood too close to the rails with them - we would be asked to step back.

Underneath this viewing area we could see them from underwater, and in the next room we could see dolphins. We saw quite a few other species such as rays, and tortoises, and even some jellyfish. The problem though was we both had legs and feet that ached so much - all we wanted to do was to sit. For me it wasn’t helpful - you don’t want tired legs before a marathon. Maybe tomorrow would be easier.

Instead of taking the bus back to the hotel, we walked through Grant Park and watched them setting up for the big race. It was a little strange to think I’d soon be back there getting ready to run around the city. I did at least get to see where I’d need to be going - so that was useful. How would my legs be by the time I next arrived here?

Walking to Grant Park

At the far end of the park we saw the cloud gate, which locals refer to as ‘the bean’. The surface of this is highly reflective which makes it interesting to photograph with near perfect reflections. Of course this means it’s also a popular attraction - it was surrounded by dozens of people. I didn’t really want to try and visit it during more unsociable hours to get clearer pictures, so made do with what I could. Underneath the bean the reflective effect was an incredibly odd one - like a hall of mirrors or a kaleidoscope.

Cloud Gate

On our way back to the hotel we stopped by a Dunkin Doughnuts - a bit of a throwback to my time in New York City. When we’d been there we’d visited every day - this was my first time visiting one since.

That evening we decided to get food from a restaurant on the next block, called Chef Petros. I went for a turkey burger, and we were asked if we wanted ketchup - we did, but it never arrived. Otherwise, the meal was okay.

Again I got an early night to try and give my legs time to recover from the day of walking. Hopefully the next day would give more time for relaxing.