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Chicago’s most exclusive running club

alumni

While the elite runners will hit the pavement in Sunday’s 36th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, there is another elite group running. In our weekend special coverage of the 2013 Chicago Marathon, Mary Ann spoke with one of this special group.

Only 8 alumni have run every race since its inception. Ron Williams, 74, a resident of Downers Grove, is among the group of runners to race in every Chicago Marathon.

Williams and other members of the group were recognized Thursday morning as the Chicago Marathon kicked off the weekend’s festivities with a news conference, which included remarks from race officials and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Williams, who was in the audience with his wife Sue, said he runs year-round and most recently completed a half-marathon in Scotland, where he ran with his daughter.

When asked about the most significant change he’s seen over the years as a runner, Williams said: “Better shoes.” Shoes used to be quite the problem, he said.

At the Chicago Marathon, Williams said he has enjoyed seeing the increase in the number of supporters lining the race route and appreciates the cheering. The number of runners in the race is another matter.

“It’s too crowded,” he said. “I much prefer to run a much smaller course of racers.”

Sue and Ron Williams

Sue Williams, 71, married to husband Ron for 51 years, has attended most of the races with him and is his biggest supporter, though she does worry on occasion about him, she said. “I worry, but he carries a cell phone,” she said, adding one year she could no longer track him with the chip, but he stopped someone to use a cell and call her.

Ron Williams is hoping to complete the race in 6 hours and 30 minutes. He trains with Team in Training and raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Why does he keep running? “My weight,” he said. “And, being able to eat what I want.”