It’s not the norm to run outside in Havana, but that didn’t stop Weinberg junior Alex Gunn from training for the Chicago Marathon.
Gunn will join 45,000 registered runners in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9. The Chicago Marathon is one of the world’s most popular races and is also one of the five World Marathon Majors. The 26.2-mile course is known to be fast and flat and covers 29 Chicago neighborhoods.
Gunn, who was in Havana as part of the International Program Department’s Public Health in Cuba program, is one of several Northwestern students running the marathon for the first time.
Participants in the 16-to-24 age group, students included, represent approximately 9 percent of total registered runners.
Weinberg sophomore Corey Goodwin told The Daily last spring that she once ended up running to the Willis Tower in Chicago while training for the marathon. Goodwin, who trained in Boston this summer, said the marathon is a challenge she gave herself because she enjoys the sense of adventure she gets from running.
Trish Tormey, assistant coach for NU’s women’s cross country team, said she will also be running the marathon. She said she appreciates the hard work and dedication necessary to train for a marathon.
“It takes a lot of time and planning when you’re running 23 miles on a Saturday. Sometimes you can’t plan anything else,” she said.
Tormey said she enjoys the balance between training and coaching at the same time.
“Getting back into intense workouts has helped me remember what our girls are going through, and in turn, helped me to become a better coach,” she said.
Students preparing for the marathon are also familiar with balancing training with other responsibilities.
Weinberg sophomore Megan McEvily understands the sacrifice required to prepare for a long distance event. On a recent Friday night, McEvily said she went to bed before her roommates even left for the evening, just so she could wake up early for her long run on Saturday.
Many NU students have spent at least five months training for the marathon. Several said they are turning to friends for support, both before and during the actual race.
Weinberg sophomores Hannah Weiss and Meredith DeHaas said they have depended on each other for support in the weeks leading up to the marathon. The pair even intend to wear matching outfits with the motto “You only live once” on race day. The two said they are also going to listen to identical playlists, so that they feel connected during the race.
“Wherever we are on the course, we’re listening to the same song and enduring the same pain,” Weiss said.
Other students are motivated to run by their families. Marathons are something of a tradition in the family of Andrew Griesemer. The McCormick junior said he realized he wanted to run the Chicago Marathon when he watched his sisters complete the race.
Weinberg sophomore Noah Collin also has significant family history with the Chicago Marathon. He said his mother participated in the race in 1979, and his father ran four Chicago Marathons during the ’90s.
But for most students, the appeal of completing the Chicago Marathon is simply the challenge itself.
“For me, this marathon is personal,” Gunn said. “It’s to see if I can push my body to where my mind wants to go. I love running, and I think there is a spiritual aspect that connects us to every human being that has ever lived.”