Spring and Fall Ultra Marathons on Chicago's Lakefront

George Cheung

George J. Cheung was known and loved by all in the Chicago running community. For years, he organized the Annual Chinese New Year 50K in Lincoln Park. George passed away in January of 1994 and we honor him with this year's 50K. The article below was originally printed just prior to his death.


George J. Cheung, 62, is a native Chicagoan and a civic leader. He worked for the City of Chicago for over 35 years, retiring only several weeks ago from his position as a Director for the Department of Human Services. He and his family own The Junk Restaurant in the "northern suburbs" of Chicago. George and his wife, Celia, have two sons, one daughter, a grandson, and another grandchild is forthcoming.

George conceived and led the fund drive to raise $70,000 for the construction of the Chinatown Gateway in 1975. He served as Executive Director of the Wah Mei Junior Drum and Bugle Corps for 10 years, helping more than 1,000 Chinese children through the program.

He is also the originator of the Chinatown Summer Fair and has served on numerous committees and associations in the Chinese community. George is a member of the Frank Leahy American Legion Post and the Tilden Tech Alumni Association. The latter group previously honored George as their "Man of the Year." In 1985, George was a co-host of the WMAQ radio talk show.

A serious runner since 1977, George ran innumerable road races from 5 kilometers to the 26.2 mile marathons. He later found more challenge in ultramarathon events which included 50 mile, 100 kilometer, and 24-hour events. In May 1987, George surpassed 25,000 miles of running - a distance equivalent to the circumference of the earth. That summer, George hosted a runners' event, the George J. Cheung's Great Run Around, wherein he honored other runners who had completed a similar cumulative distance in their running careers.

George is the founder of the Junk Restaurant Running Club, and co-founder of the Chicago Ultramarathon Society. The Junk Restaurant, Chicago's "watering hole" for runners, has seen many parties and social events hosted by George, honoring people who helped others. This included a Chicago Policeman who was shot in the line of duty; and a dinner was hosted by George to honor Leroy Montgomery, the cab driver who saved the life of fellow runner and friend, Carole Pooler. The Montgomery-Pooler party at the Junk Restaurant on February 14th was a "love-in" of sorts. The print and video media were present to record the event, and Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz read a letter from Mayor Richard M. Daley. It was during that following week when George started his vacation in Florida when he felt that he had a life threatening medical ailment.

In addition to being an avid marathoner, George coordinated the Chinatown leg of the Chicago Marathon. He has completed marathons in Chicago, Boston, Honolulu, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. George has also run down and up the Grand Canyon. He has been one of Chicago's most dedicated ultramarathoners, at times jogging 30 miles on a Saturday or Sunday as a "training run." In the mid 1980's, he started from the finish line of the Lake County Marathon, arriving at the starting line just in time to start with the others for the 26.2 mile run from Zion to Ravinia Park, completing a double marathon the same morning!

George's "race for his life" continues, and on Saturday, June 12, 1993, hundreds of his friends will honor him and express their appreciation for his friendship.

June 12, 1993
George J. Cheung Appreciation Day
Sponsored by Swedish Covenant Hospital and Galter LifeCenter