NEW CHICAGOLAND MARATHON FALLS FLAT EVEN BEFORE IT STARTS

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Windy City International Marathon, whose inaugural run had been slated for Oct. 8 in the Chicago area, was canceled last week due to difficulties in securing permits for the race course, said organizers at SportsTek, Chicago. Pepsi-Cola Co. and the American Medical Association were among sponsors planned for the 26.2-mile race, which would have competed with the 18th annual LaSalle Banks Chicago Marathon planned for Oct. 15.

Guinness Import Co., Stamford, Conn., hopes to top its own successful "Win Your Own Pub in Ireland" essay contests with a new creative writing promotion. This time, the grand prize is a "Guinness Country Cottage." To win the authentic cottage in Ireland's River Lee Valley-plus two round-trip tickets on Aer Lingus per year for the next 10 years-consumers must write the most creative postcard describing their first day in the new cottage (including mention of Guinness). Entry forms will be available starting this month; deadline for entry is Sept. 30.

MasterCard International, New York, this week kicks off its "Search for America's Smartest Shopper" promotion in Atlanta, asking consumers to submit unique smart shopping tips to a panel of judges. The promotion includes weekend events and regional smart shopper searches with distribution of prizes and coupons at various malls. One grand prize will be awarded Oct. 28 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Advantage International, Atlanta, coordinates.

Polo Ralph Lauren, New York, makes its first foray into tennis as the official sportswear sponsor of the 1995 Volvo International Tennis Tournament to be held Aug. 12 to 20 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, New Haven. Polo replaces Starter Corp.

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