Lab community members run marathon, cheer from sidelines


Erich Raumann

Veteran marathon runner Shauna Anderson decided this year to come volunteer on the course and cheer on runners. She passed out water and orange juice to tired athletes.

Erich Raumann, Reporter

The Chicago Marathon wound through 29 of Chicago’s neighborhoods Oct. 10, attracting world-class athletes and amateur runners alike. People camped out in lawn chairs to cheer on the runners, and volunteers were poised with water and orange juice, doling out cups to the exhausted athletes on the final stretch of their journey, fighting off the unusual humidity. Interspersed in this determined crowd, both on the course and the sidelines, were members of the U-High community. 

Students were not the only ones who competed in the marathon: English teachers Christine Himmelfarb and Mark Krewatch, and P.E. teacher Josh Potter ran as well. While some teachers ran, math teacher Shauna Anderson, a veteran marathon runner, chose to volunteer on the course instead of competing this year. 

“I have done a marathon 20 times — the Chicago Marathon three times — but never volunteered,” Ms. Anderson said. “I decided this year I was going to come out and support the runners, see how it feels to be on this side and give back.”

Math teacher Shauna Anderson and English teacher Christine Himmelfarb snap a selfie on the running course. (Shauna Anderson)

Junior Daniel O’Connor chose to run in the marathon this year: he appreciates the relaxing nature of running and used it as a way to get out and exercise during the pandemic, even when U-High’s official cross country and track and field teams were on hiatus due to COVID-19.

“I like the meditative aspect of running,” Daniel said. “Most people like running together and talking, but I prefer going on my own with headphones and listening to an audiobook.”

World-class athletes push themselves as hard as possible to get on the leaderboards, but marathons look very different for casual runners. Most have a wide array of personal hurdles they have to overcome and personal goals for the marathon itself. Daniel has been running competitively since he was 14, and sees this as a next step. 

“I prefer running for fun to running competitively,” Daniel explained. “I just thought it was an interesting challenge to take on.” 

Daniel, like all of the runners this year, struggled in the muggy conditions. He finished with a time of 5 hours, 33 minutes, an hour slower than his goal. However, Daniel expressed that he wasn’t let down by his performance and was happy that he completed the race. 

Despite the difficult weather and grueling uphill climb at the very end of the course, the scene at the finish line in Grant Park was a happy one as people relaxed and rejoiced, congratulating each other and appreciating their great achievements.

“As soon as you cross the finish line everybody that you see congratulates you,” Ms. Himmelfarb said. “Somebody puts a medal over your neck, you look over, there were these two guys from Spain — I don’t know where they got this bottle of tequila — and they were toasting to everyone.”

At the end of the marathon, the competitive, determined nature of the runners evaporates, uniting the Chicago community and beyond. 

“It’s kind of rare that you do something where everyone feels like a winner,” Ms. Himmelfarb said. “ At that point, there is no competition — everyone is just happy.”