CHICAGO (CBS) – On Sunday, 45,000 runners are expected to hit the streets of Chicago for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
For most of them, the marathon will be a test of their abilities for 26.2 miles. But as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, for four runners, it will mark the end of a 100-mile run to help children a world away from Chicago.
Michael Chitwood, Hannah Covert, Rusty Funk and Paul Jansen Van Rensburg were all smiles Friday night as they sat down for a dinner at Moody Church in honor of Kenya’s elite runners. There were no signs of worry about the task ahead of them: a 74-mile run back and forth along the lakefront leading into Sunday’s marathon.
“We’re trying to time it so that we arrive at the start line, just in time to start the marathon, so our last 26 miles of the 100 will be the Chicago Marathon,” explained Chitwood, National Director for Team World Vision.
Chitwood says their plan is simply to run straight through.
It’s a first for all four runners who have all been training since May 2010.
But it’s not the accomplishment of saying “I ran a hundred miles” that’s driving them. It’s children a world away in Africa.
The four runners are hoping their 100-mile run will raise 400 World Vision child sponsorships.
“If it was just for myself, I wouldn’t make it, honestly, but because we have a greater purpose, I definitely know it’s going to happen,” Covert says.
“We’re not only running for ourselves, but we’re bringing hope to a world that is in so much need,” added Jansen Van Rensburg.
And Justus Koech, who was born in Nairobi, knows that need first hand. He now works with World Vision in Africa.
“When you talk of a child, you are not only helping one child, you’re helping a family of about six people, so when we provide water, we are touching the whole family,” Koech said.
The team says knowing the difference they make in the lives of those children and their families is all the motivation they need.
“The running seems less strenuous when we think of those things,” Funk said.
The team will start their run at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Members say they plan to do the entire 100 miles together, and they expect it will take them about 21-hours to complete.
Volunteers and security will be on bikes following the team to provide them with food and support during their overnight run.