Students reflect on experience of, motivation behind running in the Chicago Marathon


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon took place on Sunday, Oct. 13 in Grant Park. The runners included Northwestern students Justin Navidzadeh, Shaleahk Wilson, and Shayan Olumi

Sammi Boas, Reporter

On Sunday, more than 45,000 runners gathered in Grant Park to participate in the Chicago Marathon. In its 42nd year, the marathon welcomed runners from more than 100 countries, all 50 states and Northwestern’s campus.

McCormick junior Justin Navidzadeh said he signed up for the marathon to challenge himself. Though he wasn’t as motivated to run at the time, Navidzadeh said he wanted to check completing a marathon off of his bucket list and figured now was a good time.

“What keeps me running is getting to the starting line and not knowing if I’m going to finish,” Navidzadeh said. “In the summer, when I didn’t have motivation, I was like, ‘If I don’t run today, if I don’t run this week, then am I going to regret it if I don’t end up finishing?’”

Shaleahk Wilson signed up for the marathon to fundraise for Bottom Line, a charity that provides one-on-one guidance to low-income and first-generation high school seniors throughout the college admissions and decisions process. Bottom Line has locations in Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Worcester.

Wilson, who is a first-generation college student, said he chose this charity because he felt connected to it.

“I’m here from the QuestBridge program which helps low-income students find colleges,” the McCormick senior said. “It’s this really great thing that has impacted my life. To help those people whose shoes I was in, it’s a great opportunity.”

Wilson’s mindset shifted during his marathon training when he got IT band tendonitis in his left leg in June. He was on pace to run the marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes before the injury, but had to modify his goal to completing the run in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Wilson said that his knee would become inflamed and would make it harder to run a mile. He said the injury has lingered a bit and made it a bigger challenge to finish the marathon.

Weinberg sophomore Shayan Olumi also experienced an injury while training for the Boston Marathon, but took preventative measures when training for this year’s Chicago Marathon by training further in advance.

Olumi said the Boston Marathon training process was “tough,” but when he volunteered at the Chicago Marathon in 2018, he was inspired again to train for 2019’s Chicago Marathon.

“Boston was for fun — Boston was to prove that I could do it,” Olumi said. “Chicago’s to prove that I can do it the best that I can, putting everything into it.”

Olumi finished with a time of 3:27:31, placing him 6652nd overall and 16th for his age group. Navidzadeh finished with a time of 3:32:25, placing him in the 7000s overall and 210th for his age group. Wilson placed 452th in his age group and around 20640 overall with a time of 4:14:21, finishing 15 minutes under his goal.

Despite the challenges of running in and training for a marathon, Olumi said that all the hardship is worth it.

“The typical thing of marathoners is that during the course, you hate what you’re doing to your body and your mind is telling you no and saying “Why are you doing this?’” Olumi said. “But then, the high you get at the end is so high that you forget all the pain and just want that high again.”

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