Runners take on the 39th Annual Chicago Marathon (PHOTOS)

CHICAGO – Once a year for almost four decades now, thousands of runners from around the world have taken over the streets of Chicago for the Chicago Marathon.

Bright and early Sunday morning, the game of unbelievable numbers began as 40,000 runners representing all 50 states and more than 100 countries tried to see how fast they could finish 26.2 miles through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. They went as far North as Wrigley Field, as far West as the United Center and as far South as U.S. Cellular Field.

In the men's elite field, Abel Kirui edged out defending champ Dickson Chumba, while Florence Kiplagat finished as the women's elite champion.

After finishing his 9th Chicago Marathon, Chicago native Jeff Hadziam said the enthusiastic crowds throughout the route make this run special – and help push the runners on.

“It’s my favorite race in the world,” Hadziam said.

He wasn’t quite on pace with the Kenyans, who finished in a little more than two hours. But he did finish close to Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who achieved her goal of under 3 hours. She said training helps her escape from politics for a little while.

“This has [helped] my sanity, training for this,” Duckworth said.

Not that the numbers on the clock matter when it’s all said and done.  For those who have family or friends who finish, they know who won.

Photographer David Harpe captured the scene as runners passed the midway point at Adams & Jefferson: