Once again this year, a hearty congratulations to Berhane Adere who won Chicago in 2:33:49, albeit right at the intersection of Marathon Ln. and Champion Dr.
At the crack of dawn, walking down to the starting corral in Grant Park, it was a breath of fresh air walking into a forest of runners who were stretching and getting ready for the race to start. Walking past the starting line, I imagined this is where one of our country heroes Adere will be starting off along with the other elite athletes. Isn't it great that only and only in running one is able to compete with the who's who of world class athletes!
Chicago '07 certainly was a marathon to remember from its record heat wave to the unprecedented finish as Adere reached deep into her track & field days to win Chicago back to back. For elite athletes and others alike, Chicago '07 perhaps will go down in history book as a disappointment. Couple days before the race, a Chicagoist article "Chicago Marathon 2007: This One's Gonna Hurt" wrote:
Don’t be a hero. These aren’t the conditions for a personal best; finishing in one piece is good enough.
For those who heeded this advise, it served well, and for others Chicago '07 was chalked as one of the most challenging marathon. To put it in perspective, instead of spectators congratulating finishers for finishing a marathon, the scene last Sunday was such that spectators were congratulating finishers for surviving the record heat wave.
However, beneath Chicago's heat wave and disappointing finishing time, there was a common thread that united hundreds of runners: the love of running under the name of charity, the unity to bring opportunity and miracles to others less fortunate. It's this combination that made this year's Chicago marathon an extraordinary marathon for many as hundreds were running for a great cause, mine being a A Running Start Foundation which is making a tangible impact to Ethiopia's future runners.
A Running Start Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to using the power of sport to improve the lives of underprivileged youngsters in Ethiopia and East Africa. One example is a project that is taking place in Ethiopia with the youth sports club in Bekoji that has produced world renowned athletes such as Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba. Being part of this great cause through running was simply a priceless experience. This year's Chicago Marathon represented over 80 charities raising nearly $10M. Many thanks to those who supported these causes and a challenge for others to get involved.
These great charity programs involve common runners as well as elite athletes. In this spirit of charity, I had the pleasure of having a dinner with one of the elite athletes from neighboring Kenya who also combines the passion of running with a greater cause. Meeting Christopher Cheboiboch who finished 6th last weekend was an experience. Christopher is an athlete who displays a compassionate and genuine attitude towards others not only through his words but also through his actions. Although Sunday's running condition left more to be desired, it gave Christopher and myself an opportunity to talk about running and how it can make an impact on society at large. Christopher, like many others, is involved in developing a primary school named Salba Academy in his home country Kenya. Through his generosity, Christopher has used his earnings from New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon winnings to afford kids in his community an opportunity to learn and grow. Kudos to Christopher and wish him best in his endeavors.
For the rest of us, let's continue to make a difference. Yechalale! ... Translation from Amharic: "It’s possible". Together we can make a difference!
Long live ROOCHA!
Roocha Note: Thank you Roocha WeaDage for sharing your firsthand experience in Chicago and congratulations on surviving the heat and finishing the marathon.