UIC runners race for research at Chicago Marathon

Christine Haddad

Christine Haddad runs her fourth marathon Sunday.

Christine Haddad will lace up her shoes and try to channel her excitement Sunday as she runs in her fourth Chicago Marathon.

She’s running not just for herself, but for people who have Type 1 diabetes.

Haddad is part of Cellmates on the Run, a team of marathon runners organized by Jose Oberholzer, chief of transplantation surgery. They have raised nearly $200,000 for the Chicago Diabetes Project and hope to reach $300,000 before the New York City Marathon Nov. 3.

The project funds research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

“Running for a charity makes it more meaningful,” said Haddad, a doctoral student in microbiology and immunology.

“You’re not just running for yourself, but a cause, and you think about that during the race — that helps you finish.”

Four years ago she wasn’t even sure a marathon was in the picture.

“I started running because I was doing research at UIC,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure if I could do it, but it was a really great experience and it felt really good.”

Haddad won’t be alone Sunday — 45,000 registered participants will run through 26 Chicago neighborhoods on the 26.2-mile course. The Bank of America-sponsored race will begin in Grant Park and work its way around the city, passing in front of Student Center East and along Taylor Street.

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“It’s a great course, it’s a lot of fun,” says faculty member Kim Czech.

Kim Czech will run in her first marathon since 2010. She ran and trained on her own then, but now has an added incentive running for Cellmates on the Run.

“The big thing this year is I’m supporting my university and supporting diabetes research,” said Czech, assistant professor in pediatric nephrology. “It’s a fantastic thing that the university is a part of.”

Czech’s last marathon was somewhat of a challenge — she trained and ran with a sprained ankle. This year she hopes to improve on her time with the help of an incredibly positive atmosphere.

“It’s a great course, it’s a lot of fun, people cheer you all the way long — I have friends and family cheering me along,” she said. “The nice thing about Chicago is it’s flat, so it’s an easier run.”

Flat or not, the 26.2-mile journey through the city is a challenge even for those who have completed the marathon before.

Ananya Gangopadhyaya will compete in her third marathon this weekend. The experience certainly helps, but her last run was in 2006.

 

“I feel like I know a little more of what to expect, but at the same time, seven years does make a difference,” said Gangopadhyaya, assistant professor of internal medicine, who is running with Cellmates on the Run.

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Ananya Gangopadhyaya (left, with Alexandra Van Meter) is raise money for diabetes research.

“It’s such an adrenaline rush, it makes you realize all this training was for this one day. Everyone has worked so hard to get there — you can just feel that emotion.”

Spectators can cheer on the runners at two UIC stations: at Mile 14 near Whitney Young High School and Mile 17 in front of Student Center East.

The UIC pep band, cheer and dance, men’s basketball and women’s softball teams will be in attendance to support the UIC runners.

All volunteers will receive a T-shirt and refreshments; the student group that brings out the most members will win a pizza party from the Chicago Diabetes Project.

To volunteer, email chicagodiabetesproject@gmail.com