Thousands of flushed-faced runners — some glistening, others dripping with sweat — took to the downtown streets on the warmest day the Chicago area has seen this year.
The spring-like temperatures and beaming sun on Sunday drew out a record 32,427 participants for the 32nd annual Shamrock Shuffle, an eight-kilometer (about five-mile) race sponsored by Bank of America.
The warm, sunny and humid weather was a departure from the cold, wet conditions runners have seen in the past several years.
"Last year, I froze my butt off," said Tom Mikrut, 49, of Wheaton, who was running the race for the second time. "This year, I sweated my butt off."
Chato Prado, 36, of Chicago, had one word to describe the race on Sunday that took runners from Grant Park, through Streeterville, the Loop and the South Loop: Hot.
"We were so used to the last … years being cold," said Prado, who was running the race for the ninth time. The heat "affects you a little."
Prado, along with other runners, said the warm temperatures slowed them down, especially because they hadn't been training in such high temperatures.
"I hope next year the temperatures are up two weeks sooner," Prado said.
Simon Bairu, a Canadian long-distance runner who holds the national record and led the men in the race, also felt the heat, writing on Twitter: "It was hot 4 a race."
He was joined in the lead by Kendallville, Ind., native and U.S. Olympic distance runner Amy Yoder Begley, 33, who crossed the finish line in 26 minutes and 50 seconds. Bairu, 27, finished the race in 23 minutes and 38 seconds.
For the past three years, runners have faced colder temperatures, rain and even snow. This year saw the warmest temperatures since 2008, organizers said. Temperatures reached into the high 70s by noon, making it the warmest day so far this year, National Weather Service Meteorologist David Beachler said. The humidity and the sun beating down on the pavement made it feel even warmer, he added.
Despite the warm temperatures, organizers said there were no heat-related injuries.
"This is just as hot as it can get without hurting people," said Tiffany Cole, 29, of Chicago, who ran the Shamrock Shuffle for the first time.
As for the runners, who sipped water and ate bananas after the race, the weather may have been tougher to run in, but it was nice for locals ready to get outside.
"It’s the perfect spring day," said Dennis Matousek, 41, of West Chicago. "It's a great way to kick off a great running season."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun