82 Degrees?! Is Chicago On The Brink of Another Marathon Disaster?

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The 2007 Chicago Marathon (Getty)

I was in Chicago back in 2007, not as a runner but as a spectator (watching my wife fight through the burn) when the marathon was called off mid-race as temperatures soared. It was utter chaos; from the sidelines, it looked like a bona fide public health emergency at 88 degrees. Now the forecast for Sunday’s 2010 marathon is calling for a red-hot temp of 82.

Which, as any runner will tell you, actually means something closer to 90 degrees at street level in an urban environment. 90 degrees. For three to four hours. Running steady.

Yet still, for the tens of thousands of runners preparing to give it their all in the Windy City this weekend, marathon organizers have still not issued any sort of official warning to participants. After the 2007 debacle, organizers instituted an “Event Alert System,” a four-tiered warning system that runs from green to yellow, red, black. As of Thursday, e-mails sent out to marathon participants still indicated green, meaning “good conditions.” (See photos of the world’s most extreme marathons)

As for how “good” those conditions are going to be, it depends on what forecast you check. As of 11:30 a.m. EST Friday, the National Weather Service forecast was calling for a high of 78 degrees. But over at The Weather Channel, meteorologists were predicting 82.

That’s only six degrees shy of the 2007 mark – surely troubling enough to lead organizers to nudge the alert system up to yellow, indicating “less than ideal conditions.”

As for exactly what will happen 48 hours from now, no one can be certain. But over the last few days, the projected temps for Sunday have continued to march northward, concerning more than one marathoner who has seen first hand what can happen when water starts to run scarce, and runners push themselves beyond their limit.

NewsFeed is hardly an expert when it comes to marathons, but it seems as if those organizing the event should at least start warning the runners flocking in from around the globe that Sunday might pose a problem or two. Or at the very least that the conditions are decidedly less than ideal for a 26 mile jaunt.

And here’s hoping they have started stocking up on some extra water.