Chicago Run came to my school when I was in 4th grade and hasn’t left me since. I started out with the Chicago Runners program racing my friends up and down the block until the time would come where we would all have to go back to the classroom. It was perfect. We were able to release so much energy in a short amount of time and go back to class ready to learn. This continued over the years until I was in 7th grade. Not many of the kids were really participating anymore because in middle school running wasn’t exactly the cool thing to do. However, at that time the Running Mates after-school program came to CICS Bucktown, which quickly caught my attention, and I knew I had to join. The after-school practices were great and I realized I enjoyed running. It isn’t easy and it’s almost never comfortable but it’s so revitalizing. Through Running Mates, I made many lasting friendships and learned the value of health. I even got to experience some healthy competition at the races, and I loved it. My very first race was the Shamrock Shuffle. I don’t think I had ever seen that many people in one place. There was a very unique feeling that came with race day that was a mix a nerves and excitement. When I reached the finish line that day, I knew running had become a big part of who I was and who I wanted to be.
I continued running in high school developing on a more competitive level. Our track team saw plenty of success my first two years going to state for the first time ever and qualifying again the following year. Junior year our track program got cut. I stopped running for some time until I heard of a new program that Chicago Run was launching called L.A.C.E Up! Luckily, I was able to attend some of the group events before going off to college at University of Michigan. I participated in a few University of Chicago track meets over the summer through Chicago Run and connected with the other participants from across the city.
I haven’t lost touch with the organization now that I am in college, either. I continue to volunteer and am interning with them over the summer. Furthermore, I made the decision to run my first Chicago Marathon with Team Chicago Run and fundraise for the organization. Chicago Run has shaped me in ways I never thought anything could. I have learned and experienced so much due to my involvement with Chicago Run and now it’s my turn to give that back to others and to the organization itself. I am more than thrilled to continue seeing the organization grow and witnessing the impact exercise can have on Chicago’s youth.
Reflection by Christain Ureña, Chicago Run Intern and Marathon Charity Team Runner