A blog by runners. For runners.

Runners of the world unite at Chicago Marathon Expo

Chicago Marathon Racers Sign wall

BeermannAfter she completes the 36th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Sheila Beermann will be 9 marathons away from competing in all 50 states. Beermann, 51, of Elk Point, SD, is running the race with her step-daughter Erica Beermann. “This was one I wanted to do and when Erica said she wanted to do it, it solidified the deal,” Sheila Beermann said.

Both women are doing more than run the race, like so many other runners, they chose to raise money for a charity. Sheila and Erica each raised $750 for Girls on the Run. The marathon will be the third for Erica, of Sioux City, Iowa. “The finish is all I’m looking for,” Erica said. “I just want the medal.” The women are in different start corrals.

Sheila is hoping for a 4:30 finish, while Erica would be pleased with a 4:45 finish.

RoseannBretzmannFirst timers

Roseann Bretzmann, 37, of Port Barrington, Ill., has done a half-marathon before, but Chicago will be her first attempt at 26.2 miles.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” she said.

Bretzmann began her training in February and has no expectation for a finish time.

“I just want to finish,” she said.

MicheleLakeTo wish her well as she attempts her first marathon, teacher Michele Lake, 41, of Bronson, Mich., said her students held a special rally for her Friday. Lake competed in a half-marathon two years ago and has run a lot of 5K races, but this is her first time taking on a marathon. “It was something I always wanted to do, kind of a bucket list thing to do,” she said.

If all goes well, Lake said she would like to finish in under 4 hours. Lake said she heard the Chicago Marathon was a lot of fun and that the course was nice and flat, good reasons to make Chicago her first marathon.

She is also running for a charity group. Lake raised $1,500 for the American Cancer Society in honor of her father. “My father passed away from cancer in 1989 and he was an avid marathoner,” she said. “He did Boston, Detroit and Alabama.”

Sunday to honor her father, she will be wearing his Boston Marathon shirt.

Charities raise millions thanks to runners

In 2012, charity groups raised $15.3 million dollars at the Chicago Marathon thanks to runners, according to marathon information. The charity the Beermanns are running for, Girls on the Run, said its running partners have raised nearly $300,000 this marathon weekend. “We have just over 280 charity runners this year,” said Jessica Grossnickle, Girls on the Run director of development. The nonprofit provides low-income programming for any girls who want to participate.

“The funds raised by our team go to support our low-income programming in the Chicago area,” she said. The number of supporters has steadily increased, she said. In 2011, Girls on the Run had just over 100 runners at the marathon. In 2012, that number was near 200. This year, nearly 300 runners will support the charity group. “The popularity of our group is growing really fast.”

Runners can partner with any number of groups including those that help homeless pets or others, which are more visible such as Team in Training, which supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Volunteers from Chicago Run will be manning the aid station at mile 20, along with providing support at two other locations during the race. About 300 Chicago Run volunteers will be supporting racers Sunday, including 100 middle schoolers who will be cheering runners at mile 24, said Amy Witt, director of development and strategy for Chicago Run.

In addition, the nonprofit, which brings running programs to Chicago Public Schools, has a team of 85 runners participating in the race and raising nearly $90,000, she said. A donation of $50 helps to sponsor a child in the nonprofit’s main school program. It also offers a program, which helps middle school students train for 5k races.

The students get prizes for participating and gain self-esteem in the process, Witt said.

Have marathon, will travel

Some people, those who are maybe a little Type A, cannot justify a vacation if they aren’t doing something, said Thom Gilligan, president and founder of Marathon Tours & Travel. His company provides a mix of travel and running, offering its clients the chance to run on the seven continents and all 50 states.

The company began in 1979, but has seen a boom in business in the last 5 years, he said. “There is a new generation of marathoners and those with Type A personalities,” he said. “People who want to combine a marathon with a vacation.” The company’s tagline is “exploring the seven continents one stride at a time.” The tours are so popular, Gilligan said he has a three-year wait for the Antarctica Marathon.

“Running is just a catalyst to travel the world,” he said.

Runners of the world unite

Claire Lucas KT Tape LineWaiting in line to get some KT Tape (a very long line) Claire Lucas met Bernardo Chapa. Lucas lives in Calgary, Can., but is originally from Derby, England. Chapa is a resident of Monterrey, Mex. Lucas is running marathon number seven, she just competed in a marathon last weekend, running 3:31. She was sitting in line for the tape, hoping it would help her IT band.

This is her first time running Chicago. She has decided to run a marathon for each letter of the alphabet, she said. Since she just did a marathon a week ago, Lucas said, “Just finish will be good. I am going to be digging in deep into the reserves.”

Chapa is back in Chicago for his third marathon. He will be trying for a race time of 3:15 or 3:20, he said. Chicago was his first marathon and he wanted to come back because he said it was “cool and amazing. The people that cheer, the crowd, the energy that flows,” were reasons to come back, in addition to the goosebumps he gets from the crowd. “I don’t deserve that.”