9 local 2011 Chicago Marathon runners to know

  • Heather Prekop will likely be finished with her marathon before many racers reach Chinatown. If all goes accordingly to plan, the 29-year-old will be celebrating a sub-2:46 race, which not only spells PR (personal record) but also earns her a trip to the U.S. Olympic Trials in January. �If I am going to run my A-game race, I know it's going to be in Chicago,� she says. �It is my home turf and I know the course well.� But one thing she�s requesting to the weather gods: �It just better not be 80-plus degrees again!� A hot race could mar those Olympic dreams.

  • Think it�s tough enough running 26.2 miles? How about juggling while running, aka joggling? That�s how Perry Romanowski aims to complete his 12th Chicago Marathon and if all systems go, he�ll be shooting to PR and run through the city without dropping a bean bag. �I�ve done drop-free marathons before but in Chicago I always seem to have one [fall] somewhere along the way,� the Wicker Park resident says. But 31 marathons with the added concentration to joggle�isn�t that impressive enough?

  • When she missed out on registering to run on 10-10-10, Renisha James knew she could bide her time for a year. In the meantime, the Evanston native added a second Walt Disney World Marathon to her race resume and became a group leader for the Chicago Area Runner�s Association, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. �It made me more accountable to my training had me up at 5am every Saturday morning for those long runs,� she says. �I felt an incredible sense of community through being a group leader, and I think I'm very well prepared for this race.�

  • Kathy Braun (far left in photo) runs a lot of Chicago races and the marathon is no exception. The 59-year-old has run it 26 times. �I always run Chicago,� she says. �I grew up in Chicago after all!� What�s equally amazing is that she has enough energy to walk from the finish line to Union Station to return to her Riverside home and then wake up to work out. �I always teach my Body Pump class the next morning and then trot a bit after to see how it feels and then swim a mile,� she says.

  • As for Markemmanuel Rodriguez, he just hopes to finish the race. �I injured myself while attempting to get out of the way of a bike that was about to hit me in Busse Woods,� he says. What resulted was a faulty landing and foot pain. But the 33-year-old really doesn�t want that to prevent him from running �because it�s the beast I�m trying to tame.� And he wants to meet his brother, who survived training injury-free, at the finish line.

  • She�s usually manning a River North water station, but this year Nancy Fudacz will be using their services instead. �After captaining the Aid Station at mile 11.8 for the last 3 years, I really missed the Chicago Marathon,� the South Loop resident says. That�s saying a lot considering Fudacz�s race resume includes an array from Boston to Rome. �I love Chicago, and the energy at the start with so many runners!� she admits.

  • Johnnie Seward, III needs two things to go right for his fourth marathon and potential Boston Marathon-qualifier. He needs cooler temps: �My biggest fear for this race is the temperature, as I do not run well in sweltering heat,� he says. And the South Sider needs to padlock his timing device to his shoe: his fastest marathon to date didn�t count because he noticed his chip had fallen off his shoe minutes before the race started. �So here I am back again chasing my dream with hopes that I can accomplish my goal,� he says.

  • What started as a casual conversation is what brings Josh Graning to Sunday�s start line. His friends talked about running next year�s marathon for the Chicago Fire Foundation, but after one actually registered this year, the rest followed suit. But while peer pressure may have spurred this Humboldt Park teacher to click the register button, he�s running for so much more. �I have a little guy, he�s three and a half, and I want to show him that if you put your mind to something it is very possible,� he says.

  • You might want to reconsider complaining about running 26.2 miles if you talk to Michael Chitwood. The National Director of Team World Vision�whom you might also recognize from some well-known marathon signage along 90/94�is ending his run with the marathon. He and three friends are running 100 miles and will begin Saturday afternoon from the race expo. After a cameo at the team dinner, the quartet will spend the night running on the lakefront, timing it to arrive in Grant Park for their team picture, jet out for roughly seven more miles and have some of the last feet to cross the marathon�s start line. And it�s all in the name of clean water for kids in Africa.

Heather Prekop will likely be finished with her marathon before many racers reach Chinatown. If all goes accordingly to plan, the 29-year-old will be celebrating a sub-2:46 race, which not only spells PR (personal record) but also earns her a trip to the U.S. Olympic Trials in January. �If I am going to run my A-game race, I know it's going to be in Chicago,� she says. �It is my home turf and I know the course well.� But one thing she�s requesting to the weather gods: �It just better not be 80-plus degrees again!� A hot race could mar those Olympic dreams.

When you have 45,000 people registered for a race, especially when that race is the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, it’s only natural to find more than a handful of stories. Try 45,000 of them, all different from the other. For some, it’s their first marathon. For others, they’ve run so many races they lost count. Some are running for charities, some yearn to beat their best time, some want to cross the finish line and say they survived that 26.2 miles, and some tack on an equally impressive feat to running a marathon, making it that much harder. If you’re running, what’s yours?


We have 9 of those tales from some of the men and women who’ll be toeing the line at October 9’s Chicago Marathon. 


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