Dance Marathon runs Chicago again

BY SCOTT RAYNOR | MAY 12, 2009 7:30 AM

It will be another nine months before Dance Marathon takes over the UI campus again, but more than 200 UI students are training to raise money for the program.

For the second-consecutive year, participants will run with Dance Marathon the Marathon — created in association with the UI Dance Marathon organization — in October’s Chicago Marathon. The number of students involved with the event has nearly tripled from 81 in 2008 to 230 this year.

Money generated from the marathon will benefit the UI Children’s Hospital. So far, runners have raised an estimated $160,000 — an increase from $85,000 last year — said UI junior Stephanie DiGiorgio, the program’s recruiter.

UI senior Alan Cosby created the event last year after mistakenly thinking the UI Dance Marathon was a training program for students to run a marathon.

“I pitched it to [spokeswoman] Katie Guckert, and she said, ‘Run for it,’ ” he said.

UI junior Carly Rieger, Dance Marathon the Marathon’s coaching chairwoman, said the majority of the Chicago participants have little to no running experience.

“Before I ran last year, the most I had ever run was three miles,” participator and UI student Sarah Freed said.

Each of the Chicago runners is expected to raise $750, which is $325 more than a dancer at the UI’s annual Dance Marathon.

Freed said she made that goal by sending letters to friends and family members asking them to sponsor her for a mile.

“When you tell them how much you are running and what you are running for, it’s not that difficult,” she said.

Freed, completely unfamiliar with marathons before signing up for last year’s event, said she was initially alarmed about the length of the race.

“When I found out that it was more than 26 miles, I expected it to be difficult,” she said. “But running with the group and running for something I believed in helped me get through the runs.”

Training for the Chicago Marathon started April 13, and the summer session begins next week, with group runs set to be held in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and different areas of the Chicago suburbs.

In preparation for the October event, runners are expected to run four to five times a week, two of which should be in group runs.

“The training wasn’t that bad; I knew what I was working toward,” Freed said. “It was fun to have the support group behind you and know that we were all working for the same goal.”

Rieger said all of the 81 runners from last year’s marathon will return this Oct. 11.

“The marathon itself was a victory lap, just to be in the city and take in the atmosphere,” Freed said. “I never once thought to give up; I just thought of the reason I was running.”

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