Hickory Hills native Steven Rice runs in his 20th Chicago Marathon on Sunday. (Supplied photos) 

Hickory Hills native Steven Rice runs in his 20th Chicago Marathon on Sunday. (Supplied photos) 

Hickory Hills native son completes 20th straight Chicago Marathon 

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By Dermot Connolly 

Hickory Hills native Steven Rice completed his 20th consecutive Chicago Marathon on Sunday—without losing much time from his first one two decades ago.

“I didn’t do badly. It wasn’t my best and it wasn’t my worst,” Rice said on Monday.

“What I am finding is, they are not getting any easier—maybe a bit more painful,” he said with a laugh. “I am just trying to hang on to my pace.”

Rice, 55, who lived in Oak Lawn before moving to downtown Chicago about 10 years ago, is a 1986 graduate of Stagg High School in Palos Hills. He owns Southwest Coating Services in Bridgeview (formerly Southwest Painting and Decorating).

reporter steve rice2He was satisfied with his 4-hour, 13-minute time on Sunday in the 26.2-mile race, noting that it was 28 minutes off his 3:45 time 20 years ago. It was also just 15 minutes slower than last year.

Kelvin Kiptum, 23, a long-distance runner from Kenya, won the Chicago Marathon with a world record of 2 hours and 35 seconds. He was the first person to break the 2-hour, 1-minute mark.

“And that was only his third marathon,” said Rice. “In my last marathon in Berlin last year, a world record was also set.”

“Yesterday, the weather was good, and probably the biggest amount of runners Chicago has had ever–49,000,” said Rice. “There were spectators along the route from start to finish.”

In total, he has run 28 marathons around the world, along with half-marathons and other shorter races in between.

The Southwest Half-Marathon race, which was held on Route 83 through Palos Heights and Palos Park from 2008 to 2018, was one of his annual traditions.

“I ran in all 11 of them,” he said. “That was a fun one to do because I am friends with the race director, Mel Diab.”

“I don’t have any secrets to share—because I am not that good,” said Rice modestly. “I know a lot of people who are running much faster—one of the girls in my group ran it in under 3 hours, I do enough to keep going, to keep up with my friends and my lifestyle. We do like to eat, drink, and run,” he said.

“When we ran in the Basel (Switzerland) marathon in 2015, and Berlin in 2022, we got up and took a train the next day to attend Oktoberfest in Munich,” he said proudly.

“I didn’t really start doing this until I was 35, mainly to lose weight and to meet new people.” Rice said, explaining why he began running two decades ago.

“I have said ‘to meet chicks,’ half-jokingly,” added Rice. “I was dating here and there. I did meet ladies. But if the relationship doesn’t work out, you see them (in the running group).”

He belongs to the Chicago Area Runners Association, an umbrella organization, as well as the 40-member Lakeshore East running club, which meets regularly at a park in his neighborhood.

“I moved downtown about 10 years ago and I have met a whole group,” he said, adding that he still keeps in touch with friends in the running group he belonged to when he lived in the southwest suburbs.

“I enjoy running and traveling with my friends. Honestly, the race scene is the icing on the cake. It is all the friendships that I make that keep me going,” he said.

“When it comes to running, I have never met a bad apple. I can say I met some quirky apples, but never a bad apple. They are really genuine people. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you run. The running community is just humungous and welcoming.”

“We had a big party in my building following the marathon on Sunday,” Rice said. “I had special shirts made (to celebrate his 20th race),” said Rice, crediting his girlfriend, Ordia McDonald, for organizing the festivities.

“There is nowhere I am dying to go running at this point,” said Rice, who reached one of the few remaining goals he had set for himself with his 20th Chicago Marathon.

“I found out last week that I won an entry into the 2024 Tokyo Marathon,” he said, so he will be running that race on March 3.

The Tokyo race will be the last of the six Marathon Majors, that he has to compete in. The others are Chicago, Boston, New York, London and Munich.

“They are all done by lottery. I think there were four or five people in my club who applied for Tokyo and I was the only one that made it.”

“In Boston, you have to qualify under a certain time, so fortunately, I did that a while ago,” said Rice.

“I am just in it for the camaraderie now. I had a New Year’s resolution to do a half-marathon each month. I did that for at least two years, maybe three. But now I just want to run in races that my friends are doing, too.”

“I am not a quitter. If I started a race, I will finish it,” said Rice, proud not to have a “DNF”—did not finish—during his 20 years of running.

3 Comments

  1. […] Story continues […]



  2. Debbie on October 17, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    Impressive! Congrats on such an achievement! Good luck on your Tokyo run.



  3. Karen on October 26, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    Congratulations on an impressive “run”!!!
    What a great accomplishment!! I’m sure you’ll do awesome in Tokyo! Good luck!



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