Chess Wizards Running 2019 Chicago Marathon

The things people are able to accomplish with a little mind over matter is simply amazing. As someone who gets winded running around the block, I have always been amazed at what trained runners are able to accomplish. Whenever I talk with a runner, the first word that comes to mind is passion. 

On October 13th, 2019, 45,000 runners were able to participate in the Chicago Marathon. The marathon is held every October in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the six World Marathon Majors, the fourth largest race worldwide by number of finishers, and one of the fastest growing marathon road races in the world. 

One of our own, Artem Ishchenko, teamed up with Girls on the Run, to run the Chicago Marathon, and raise money for this amazing program. Girls on the Run is an activity based youth development program for girls ages 8 – 14. The organization was created to inspire girls to be healthy and confident, and inspire every girl to believe in their limitless potential. Their curriculum integrates running and physical activities into all their lessons. More than 85% of the girls that participate in the Girls on the Run program receive some sort of financial assistance. 

I sat down with Artem, to hear in his own words what it was like to run the Chicago Marathon. 

What inspired you to run the Chicago Marathon?

Chicago is my hometown, and I lived there for 15 years. This was my first time running the Chicago Marathon. It is one of the top 5 marathons in the world, I’ve always wanted to run for charity, and this was a great event.

What was the atmosphere of the Marathon like?

I have previously run marathons in Miami and San Francisco, but Chicago is a different level. The organization of the event is amazing, and the support, stations, and volunteers are amazing too. Security was insane – with helicopters, and military in armor. The military would give you high fives as you ran by, everyone was super supportive.

The temperate was perfect for running, around 42F at the beginning, and 50F at the end.

The runners at the Chicago Marathon are serious about running, they mean business, and they are there to set records and run hard. 

Seeing the skyline was amazing. The race goes through different neighborhoods in the city, each with their own unique feel, and as you ran through there were bands and setups to represent each neighborhood. I have never experienced anything like it- the crowds and support. The entire route was lined with people cheering you on. 

Why did you want to run and raise money for Girls on the Run?

Working in the education field, I have a passion for working with kids. Helping underprivileged girls, and providing kids with opportunities just resonates with me, it was an easy choice.

What was the most exciting and most challenging parts of the race?

Most Challenging – The crowd was amazing, but getting excited made my heart rate higher. It was tough to come down and try to stabilize to a proper heart rate level and proper pace. You don’t want to max out your heart rate in the first 30k and not make it to the finish line. Around 15k, I was able to settle into it, not pay too much attention to the crowds, focus on my music and form, and stabilize my heart rate. I also had to deal with a foot cramp at mile 22 that made me wonder if I was going to have to walk. I was able to step on the side of my foot instead to relax the pain, and fortunately it only lasted about 15 minutes. 

Most Exciting – The temperature was perfect for running. The support of people was incredible. The most exciting was the last 10k, and running like crazy. Each kilometer builds on itself and makes you want to go further. 

How did it feel to cross the finish line?

I finished with a lot of passion. I didn’t care about the pain, and wanted to keep pushing. At my first two marathons, I could barely walk through the finish line, but this time I came in strong, and it was the opposite – I felt like I could have run more. I’m looking forward to doing more races. 

The race isn’t about the first half, it’s the last miles where you learn that everything is possible. It is both mental and humbling. Your brain wants you to stop running, your legs have no strength, but in the moment you don’t stop, and you really feel on a deep level that everything is possible. Pain and limits don’t exist. 

Thanks to generous donors, and to Chess Wizards and Apollo After School program for matching, we hit our fundraising target and raised $1500.00 for Girls on the Run at the Chicago Marathon! Nicely done Artem!