City Club of Chicago: The Chicago Marathon – A Local Event for the World
September 29, 2016
The Chicago Marathon: A Local Event for the World – Carey Pinkowski, Charles Rubner, and Steve Spear
Carey Pinkowski has served as Executive Race Director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon since 1990. During his tenure, he has grown the event into one of the largest marathons in the world with 37,459 finishers representing all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 2015.
As Executive Race Director, Pinkowski is responsible for all facets of the race. Under his leadership, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has posted three world records: Morocco’s Khalid Khannouchi (1999), Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba (2001) and Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe (2002).
In 2006, Pinkowski, along with his race director colleagues at the Boston, London, Berlin, and New York City marathons, formed the World Marathon Majors. Now including the Tokyo Marathon, the six-race series awards an annual $1 million prize purse to the world’s top male and female marathon runners.
Pinkowski is also responsible for designing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course—which features 29 distinct Chicago neighborhoods and is world-renowned for its speed—and coordinating event logistics with dozens of city, state, and federal agencies. As a result of his expertise, he was tagged by the Chicago 2016 committee to design the marathon course for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid.
Under Pinkowski’s leadership, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has delivered far more than fast marathon performances. In 2015, the event generated an economic impact on the City of Chicago of $277 million, and, since 2002, the event’s charity program has helped raise more than $150 million for local, national, and global causes.
For his efforts, Pinkowski has received numerous awards including the Illinois Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Meritorious Service to the Youth of Illinois Award (1998), Chicago Area Runners Association Gold Medal Award for Event Production (1999), MarathonFoto/Road Race Management Race Director of the Year Award presented by Running Times magazine (2001), Runner’s World magazine’s Best Race Director Award (2002), the National Distance Running Hall of Fame’s Fred Lebow Award (2004), and USA Track & Field’s Allan Steinfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Men’s Long Distance Running (2009).
Pinkowski is a member of the Indiana Athletic Hall of Fame and the Running USA Hall of Champions.
Charles Rubner is a retired Vice President of Marketing and Communications for McDonald’s Corporation, where he worked for more than 20 years before retiring in 1995.Since that time, he has served as a communications and strategic planning consultant with Ronald McDonald House and other charities.
Today, Charles spends most of his time recruiting and helping manage runners for ‘Team RMHC’, and works as part of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Charity Program to help other charities grow their fundraising results in conjunction with the Chicago Marathon.
Charles is an Olympic distance triathlete and marathon runner—having completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon four times between 2005 and 2009, the Marine Corps Marathon in 2010, and the TCS New York City Marathon in 2012.
Since retiring, Charles also has returned to school and completed a 5-year Certificate and Alumni program at The University of Chicago, in its Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults.
Steve Spear is the Endurance Director for Team World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to helping children, families, and their communities worldwide overcome poverty and injustice.
Steve ran his first Chicago Marathon in 2007 with Team World Vision. The following year he invited over 50 people from Willow Creek Community Church—where he was a pastor–to join him and raise funds through Team World Vision for clean water in Africa. Over the next several years, Steve continued running the Chicago Marathon and took on bigger challenges, including an ultra-marathon in South Africa.
In 2013, Steve left his job at Willow Creek Community Church to take on an incredible challenge. He ran from Los Angeles to New York, 30 miles a day, 5 days a week, for 5 months, and raised $500,000. After completing his journey he joined the Team World Vision staff. In addition to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Team World Vision participates in over 30 other marathons and half marathons across the US.