Sunday, September 27, 1981, was a bright day with stiff winds, even for the Windy City. Thousands of people decked out in running togs and numbers were packed into the streets around Daley Plaza before the 9:30 AM start of the fifth Chicago Marathon.

I was among them, a rookie Chicago News Bureau reporter assigned to cover the race, although the only thing I knew about marathons was that they could really screw up traffic.

City News, then located in grimy quarters on West Randolph and connected to its reporters by pay phone, wanted a color story, say an interview with a participant, and they wanted it PRONTO, which is how they always wanted everything. Somebody on the desk there threw me a bone: he mentioned that the lower numbers were given to the runners known to be fastest.