Stories by Chris
Published October 26,
Some runners thanked
God in English or Spanish or Swahili as they crossed the finish line
of the 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Others shouted four-letter
expletives. Some declared 'Boston!' noting that their time qualified
them for the upcoming marathon in Bean Town. And still others weren't
sure they'd finished, including the one winded woman who pleaded with
race officials, `Is that it? Is it over?'
Of the 34,698 men,
women and children who started the marathon, 33,633 completed the 26.2
miles and were able to say, `I finished.' These are some of their
FINISH TIME: 3:38:07
Rick Roeber, 50, Kansas City,
Aching feet are a common problem for distance runners.
But not Rick Roeber, who forgoes shoes. "I ran my first 18 marathons
with shoes and nearly destroyed my knees," said the Kansas City
resident, who maintains barefootrunner.org. "Running feels so much
better without shoes. It forces proper landings and you have a
quicker cadence. You don't have to have tough feet, you just have to
land lightly." Roeber claims that he high-fived 10,000 spectators,
stepped on zero pebbles, and received a prickly foot massage when
crossing bridges over the Chicago River. "Barefoot running is like a
metaphor for life -- watch out for the big stuff and don't worry
about the little stuff."
And that leather string around his
right ankle was less a fashion statement than a necessity -- when
you've got no shoes, you've got nowhere to lace your timing
Bob Jacobs, 34, Westfield, Ind. /
Andy Cowen, 14, Carmel, Ind.
Just a freshman at Carmel High
School in Carmel, Ind., Andy Cowen (right) not only completed his
fourth marathon, but along the way teamed up with Bob Jacobs from
nearby Westfield. The two began chatting as they ran, mostly small
talk about their small towns. At mile 23 Jacobs began cramping and
noticed that Cowen was slowing, too. "So I used a bit of reverse
psychology," explained Jacobs. "I figured if Andy thought he was
helping me, he wouldn't be thinking about what he was going through."
The mind games worked, for both runners, whose matching exhaustion
clouded the distinction between tutor and pupil. "I wouldn't have
gotten through it without him," admitted the elder runner. As for
Cowen, well, practice runs for the Indiana Junior Olympics awaited.
Tim Rogers, 42, Chester, United Kingdom
dressed as a medieval knight? Sure, lump him in with the others
dressed in business suits or Fred Flintstone get-ups. But Rogers
complemented his sword and shield with a video camera with which he
recorded himself throughout the race. He had run dressed as a
rhinoceros and a computer before, but the boots, fake chain-mail suit
and cowl posed some unique challenges, which you can view at
realbuzz.com, where St. George, as he was calling himself, will soon
post clips of his conquest of Chicago's streets.
Cicero Chimbanda, 36, Chicago
For the first 13 miles, father and son ran together.
Then Cicero (right) broke away. But after crossing the finish line, he
looped back to find his father at mile 25, and the two reached the
finish line -- for the son's second time -- together. "I don't know
how much longer we'll be able to run together, so as long as my dad is
still running, I will run with him," said the Bronzeville financial
consultant of his father, who was told he'd never run a marathon after
his hip was destroyed in an auto accident in 1995. During the race the
two maintained a dialogue -- father describing life in Denver, son
providing updates about his wife and daughter. "We talk about family;
we talk about life. We're creating memories
Staci Beiswanger, 41, South Whitley, Ind.
32, South Whitley, Ind.
They laughed and they cried and they
hugged as they strode past the finish line. The young mothers began
training on the streets of South Whitley 14 weeks before the marathon.
Four weeks into that regimen Hollenbaugh (right) learned she had
stomach cancer. "They gave us a bleak outlook when I was first
diagnosed," said the nurse practitioner, a mother of two. "Six months
if I did nothing. A few more months with chemo."
Hollenbaugh began treatment that would rob her of her hair, appetite
and stamina, her partner trained alone. "She was the phone call after
every long run asking me `How did it feel?' " said Beiswanger, a
mother of a teenage boy, through tears.
strength returned, and doctor gave the patient clearance to run
shorter distances. By mid-October Hollenbaugh was up to 10 miles. "I
figured if I could run 10, I could run 13 miles," she said, chuckling.
"I'd already paid my $90 [for the marathon]."
Beiswanger took off from the starting line, her partner joined her at
the halfway point, her short hair dyed pink so she'd be easy to spot.
And the two finished together, just as they'd started 14 weeks
earlier, when 26.2 miles seemed the greatest challenge in their path.
You can follow Hollenbaugh's journey at swumc.blogspot.com.
Christie Tate, 33, Chicago
As she passed the
finish line Christie Tate clutched gloved hands to her face and
sobbed. "I didn't think I could do this," the lawyer admitted.
"Throughout the race I had that doubt, which is what is making me
Emmanuel `Manny' Perryman, 46, Chicago
While most stagger across the finish line, Perryman leapt atop a
barricade and launched into a dance routine that would shame Michael
Jackson. After a minute of thrilling moves, the customer-service agent
with the Chicago Transit Authority bounded over to his cheering
section behind a fence, planted a smooch on his sister through the
chain-links, then resumed his pops, locks and moonwalks. "This is the
way he is all the time," chuckled Monique Perryman as her brother, a
part-time Jacko impersonator, launched into what he labels The Manny
Shuffle. "You are a fool, buddy! But you earned it!"
Ricardo Rodriguez, 45, Mexico City
Three across, arms locked
into arms, legs wobbling back and forth, they resembled The Monkeys
goofing around in the intro to their '60s television series. Finishing
their fourth consecutive Chicago Marathon, Francisco Espinosa (from
left) and Maria Pia, Maria Jose [not pictured] and Ricardo Rodriguez
were in high spirits, even as their stamina was low. "I want to give
my girls an example of how important sports are in life," said
Rodriguez, a pilot for Mexicana. How do you feel, the Mexico City
native was asked. "How do I look?" he deadpanned.
Perry Romanowski, 37, Chicago
As if sticking a finger in the
eye of the marathon, Romanowski juggled three balls throughout the
race. He dropped them only twice -- the result, he claims, of getting
bumped by other runners. The scientist has similarly clowned his way
through 19 of his 21 marathons, adding a degree of difficulty to a
feat most humans already find impossible. "I may not be the fastest
runner," he said. "But I know I'm the fastest juggling runner."
Pam Haynes, 55, Golden, Colo.,
Eleanor Decker, 47, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Strangers will often
develop bonds while running marathons, the physical demands and
emotional environment expediting connections between similarly paced
athletes. Haynes (left) was ready to nominate Decker for sainthood
as the two crossed the finish line. "For the last eight miles she
kept me in sight, kept my pace. She pulled me along. She's
wonderful," said the veteran of three marathons, who at mile 19
bluntly asked Decker, who was running to raise funds for her local
St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, if she could tag along with
her. "Pam was a gracious inspiration," demurred Decker, bolstering
her bid for canonization.
Rick Nielsen, 29,
In the 2001 Chicago Marathon, just after the 9/11
attacks, Rick Nielsen carried an American flag for the final mile.
This year, while the global political climate remains tense, at
least our football team is uplifting. "That last game [versus the
Arizona Cardinals] was like a marathon," said the special-ed
teacher, who was happy the marathon fell on a Bears bye week. "It
shows that you can never give up, especially in the last
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Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
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