Runners prepare for annual Illinois Marathon

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Runners prepare for annual Illinois Marathon

Magdalena Wierzchucki prepares for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in April.

Magdalena Wierzchucki prepares for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in April.

Magdalena Wierzchucki prepares for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in April.

Magdalena Wierzchucki prepares for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in April.

By Camille Murray

If someone told Magdalena Wierzchucki she’d be in the midst of preparing for a half marathon at this point last year, she would’ve laughed in their face.

Though Wierzchucki, sophomore in FAA, never pictured herself training to be a participant in the upcoming Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, that is what she’s found herself doing for the last few months. This will be her first time running in a marathon event.

“I’ve always been into running, and the most recent run that I completed was a 10K,” Wierzchucki said. “And I thought what better way to go further and to push myself than to sign up for a half marathon, and eventually a marathon.”

The half marathon Wierzchucki will be participating in is part of the seventh annual Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, which will be held from April 23 to 25. The event consists of multiple running events, including a full marathon, half marathon, wheelchair half marathon, 10K, 5K, marathon relay and a youth run.

Christie Clinic, a subsection of the Christie Foundation, will host the event. Christie is a medical organization that offers scholarships, provides grants and hosts educational seminars to help cultivate medical knowledge and leadership in central Illinois.

Jan Seeley, director of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, said between 20,000 and 21,000 runners are expected to participate this year. She expects approximately 6,500 participants in the half marathon and 2,000 participants in the full marathon.

Seeley said the original goal in creating the marathon was to change lives and the event has seen growth over the years.

“It has gotten larger. It’s more embraced by the Champaign-Urbana community,” Seeley said. “We’ve brought more economic impact, and we’ve donated more money to charities, so we’re impacting more and more people every year.”

The races start and end on campus. Participants in the full and half marathons will run a course that will start “near Assembly Hall, run through crowd-filled neighborhoods and tree-lined parks and finish on the 50-yard line of historic Memorial Stadium,” according to the Illinois Marathon website. The event will also feature music and entertainment, complementary gifts for participants and cash prizes for some of the top finishers.

Like Wierzchucki, many marathon participants have begun training for the event well in advance.

Wierzchucki’s current training routine consists of a run or workout that lasts around two or three hours each day. She is currently nearing the end of a 14-week training program she found online and personalized to suit her personal objectives.

“The hardest part is staying consistent,” she said. “Some days you go in excited and motivated, and some days you’re tired and exhausted and find every excuse to not go.”

The University’s Campus Recreation department is also offering 12-week training programs to help prepare students who want to participate in any of the running events.

On Saturday, the Christie Clinic held its fourth annual runners’ symposium to help educate and prepare marathon participants. The event featured speakers and doctors who discussed training, nutrition, injuries and other athletic issues.

Gary Wackerlin, executive director of the Christie Foundation, described the symposium as a kick-off to the Illinois Marathon, where participants were able to hear from experts.

“The idea is to get people interested in the marathon and in running in general,” he said.

Wierzchucki believes a passion for running, fitness and the desire to reach new fitness goals are what keep her and other marathon contestants determined to finish the race. Earlier this school year, she was faced with an injury that forced her to take a month off running completely. She has been working hard to catch up, and plans on running in a full marathon by the end of the summer.

“What’s most rewarding is pushing yourself to limits you didn’t think you could reach,” she said. “And then surpassing and doing even more on top of that.”

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