Senior to run Chicago Marathon

Benjamin Heller
Matt Rubin

During the dog days of summer, Neal Griffin woke up at 6 a.m. to start running. He had to maneuver around the midday heat – one of the many obstacles he has faced in his bid to run in the Chicago Marathon.

Neal, a senior who is studying Philosophy, was motivated to run in the marathon by his sister, who has run with him in the St. Louis Half Marathon. When she insisted that they attempt the Chicago Marathon, Neal agreed, hoping to test his body and his dedication.

The Chicago Marathon is a 26.2 mile run through downtown Chicago on Oct. 22. Over a million spectators are expected to cheer on this year’s runners, which number about 40,000.

Neal has been in training since June, and has been increasing his practice distances slowly throughout the summer.

He believes that, “Once you get going, you can keep pace. The runner’s high is what keeps you going after a while though – the endorphins are great.”

Until recently, Neal had played Varsity basketball for the Bears. But he was a sprinter in high school and maintains he has always been a runner.

Even though this is Neal’s first full marathon, he remains optimistic. “I’m worried about the 21st and 22nd miles because I think that’s the breaking point. But, the people cheering you on – it always keeps you going.”

Neal will also have the support of some familiar fans. His family is traveling from St. Charles, Mo. to Chicago to be with him and his sister.

There are still some obstacles that Neal must overcome, however. He doesn’t deny that coming back to school has interrupted some of his training. He is juggling several classes and an internship for a State Representative – both of which take away from his training time.

Also, Neal suffers from asthma, which he says has been relatively dormant in recent years, but has flared up in some of his recent training. Still, he is confident that he can make it through.

“If my body was made to do it, why not? The pinnacle of human endurance is running a marathon.”

Neal is by no means attempting to run competitively, though he does not deny that he has his mind set on a certain time. “I want to keep pace at 7:30 per mile.” His overall goal is to run the marathon in roughly three hours and twenty minutes.

While the marathon may be almost a month away, Neal already has his eyes set on his next stamina test – the triathlon.

“I’m thinking of moving on to triathlons. I got this new bike and I really like it – all I have to do now is learn how to swim better.”

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