The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Students run in marathon

Nicole Zook | Monday, October 13, 2003

While most students were sleeping Sunday morning, several Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students were attempting a near-impossible feat.

The 26th annual Chicago Marathon kicked off at 8 a.m. Sunday and among its runners were Saint Mary’s sophomore Mary Nelson, freshman Sara Nelson and their mother Diana, who all began training for the marathon months ahead.

“I first started training in April because of a triathlon, but the actual training starts in June,” Sara Nelson said. “You get up to about 22, 24 miles. Then two weeks before the race, you start to taper [and] decrease gradually to prepare.”

The sisters agreed that all the hard work was worth it. Both finished the 26.2 mile race, their first. Mary placed 100th in her division with a time of 4:59:45 and Sara, with a time of 3:43:55, placed 8th.

“I felt like a million bucks,” Sara said. “You get very caught up in the atmosphere, with all the people, and it’s very inspiring. It’s a huge adrenaline rush.”

The race, which has a registration cap of 40,000 runners, draws a crowd of over one million annually. Runners and spectators alike are treated to specially decorated neighborhoods, such as Wrigleyville, Chinatown, River North, Little Italy, Greektown and Grant Park.

“I liked running through all the neighborhoods of Chicago, seeing all the people come out and cheer and volunteer at the water stands,” Mary said.

Both girls said they had “great fans,” as family, roommates and many other students traveled to Chicago to show their support. Friends made shirts with the sisters’ names on them, and did not mind the long drive to Chicago.

“We are so proud,” Mary’s roommate, Sarah Staley, said. “We watched these girls get up and train every day before class, sometimes running as much as 20 miles before starting the normal workload of any student. To see them finish and accomplish their goals is not only something that their friends and family can be proud of, but a credit to the whole Saint Mary’s community.”

The Nelsons said they plan to compete in another marathon at some point.

Sara will compete in short races starting in June and the Ironman competition in September of next year. “And I’m definitely planning on running the marathon again with my sister and my mother,” she added.

“I’m really proud to have done it with the two other women in my family, and I would have been happy to do it in any time,” Mary said. “I’m looking forward to doing more – but not anytime soon.”