Marathoners push through the pain to cross finish line

Chicago Marathon

Runners head past UIC at the Chicago Marathon. Photo: Joseph Horejs/UIC News

“What I’ll remember most about it is not crossing the finish line but journeying through the streets of Chicago,” graduate student Andrew McLeod said of running his first Chicago Marathon Sunday. “A close second, though, will be the pain!”

McLeod was among the UIC faculty, staff and students amid the throng of 45,000 runners who took on the challenging 26.2-mile course through 29 neighborhoods. As they headed down Halsted and Taylor streets past campus, runners were cheered on by Flames teams, the UIC Pep Band and other student groups and spectators.


Rakhi Thambi, right, after the Chicago Marathon

Rakhi Thambi, right, after the Chicago Marathon.

Rakhi Thambi finished her third marathon in 4 hours, 16 minutes. “Not my best time,” said the UI Health otolaryngologist. “But I was happy.”

Thambi led UIC’s ENT Team, raising money for the department’s two charities, the Now Hear This! Fund and the One Voice Fund. “We raised a little over $10,000 and donations are still coming in,” Thambi said. Two years ago, the ENT Team raised $9,000.


Marathon - Mike Mencarini

Grad student Mike Mencarini ran a personal best.

Mike Mencarini, a second-year graduate student in urban planning who’s run marathons before, completed the course in 3 hours, 46 minutes, 40 seconds. “It was a personal record for me, so I was very happy,” Mencarini said.

For Nandish Desai, junior in bioengineering, the marathon was a first-time experience. “After about Mile 16, I had to stop at every other medical tent found at each mile to get my hamstring properly stretched,” Desai said.

He crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 41 minutes, 21 seconds – an hour more than he anticipated. “Fortunately, even with a pulled hamstring, I was at least able to get to the finish line, something that I’m really appreciative of,” he said. “Despite the unexpected challenge, I was satisfied with my performance and what I have learned from this experience.”


Chicago Marathon - Nandish Desai

Nandish Desai persevered despite a pulled hamstring.

Desai ran for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, raising $625 so far.

It was also the first marathon for Sarah Lee, a junior in neuroscience and Russian in the GPPA Medicine program. Although she’s run the Chicago Half Marathon twice, the full version was much more than she anticipated.


Chicago Marathon - Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee says the crowd made her “feel like a hero.”

“It was exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, strenuous,” said Lee, an “I am UIC” blogger.  Lee finished in 4 hours, 52 minutes, 21 seconds. She can’t be upset — it was under five hours, she said.

What’s it like to cross the finish line?

“Being relieved to be finished running, but also a great sense of accomplishment,” Mencarini said.

Desai agreed. “Many don’t realize that running a marathon has both a physical and mental component. The mental part is definitely what allows you to finish at the end,” Desai said.

“Even though I didn’t have a spectacular time, and I’m not the fastest or strongest by far, the crowd really makes everyone feel like a hero when they cross the line,” Lee said.


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