The 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon kicked off today with the elite athlete press conference at the Chicago Hilton. Before the official goings on got underway, I sat down for a short chat with Carey Pinkowski, the executive race director for the last 23 years. I began by asking the one-time sub-9:00 high school two-miler and Villanova grad how he orchestrated his professional fields, not just this year, but in general.
“Is there a formula? No. But it’s like casting a play. What I like (in a field) is chemistry. So you get some runners with experience (like Emmanuel Mutai), and some guys with inexperience (like Atsedu Tsegay). I like risk takers. I like athleticism complimenting each other. You know how I know I have done my job? It is when I look at the list and see the outcome one way. Then when I look at the list an hour later I come to a completely different conclusion. It’s when there are five or six scenarios possible that I know I’ve done it right.
But I must admit I do like young fearless racers and first-time guys. Khalid Khannouchi is one example. Steve Jones is another. There is something in Chicago’s history that plays to that kind of athlete. When Khalid Khannouchi first came to town I asked if he’d like to see the course. He said, ‘yeah’. And I thought, well, this will take three hours out of my day. But then he said he only wanted to see the final five kilometers. When I asked why, he said, ‘because that’s the only distance I’m going to race’.” Continue reading