It was less of a “race weekend” and more of a prayerful retreat
It’s a full seven days after running with Team OLA (Our Lady of the Angels) in the Chicago Marathon 2021, and I’m still experiencing “all the feels.” Matter of fact, in my head, it’s continued to feel like Chicago Marathon weekend for the entire week following it.
Note: Scroll to the end of this post if you wanna skip right to the pictures 😉
This was my first experience being part of a charity team, and my first experience running a race of this size. While there was a LOT to love about running Chicago, here are a few things that I hadn’t anticipated.
- Last weekend wasn’t so much a “race weekend.” It was more of a retreat weekend. Some of the other runners and I stayed at a little retreat center that had been built inside a building that houses a massive food pantry… and also a chapel!
- There was daily mass, Sunday mass, and many teammates to pray with and to enjoy some wonderful comradery.
- There were a few opportunities to lend a hand with things, which was cool; but the sisters were more ̶i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶e̶s̶t̶e̶d̶ insistent in keeping us runners off our feet because #1 we were their guests and #2 we were running 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago 😛
- The cheering crowds start-to-finish were astonishing! In a big city like that, with over 26 miles to cover, I had expected there to be a “dead zone” of some sort. It did thin out a little at mile 17 until China Town, but there was never a dead spot. Every area had people who had come out to cheer. It was spectacular.
All that being said, the most moving part of the experience was running with teammates—being connected with others in a common cause is beyond words. It was interesting. We were all in different places physically during the race, lost in a sea of over 26,000 finishers. Yet we were still running the same race. We were still connected.
On the topic of being united in a common cause, THANK YOU all for your support: that includes thoughts, prayers, moral support of every kind, and financial donations to the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels.
During my weekend in Chicago, I was able to see first-hand where the donation money has been going and I can say that every penny is an investment.
As of this writing, the Mission has raised $228,717 from the event. That number is still climbing from post-race donations!
I’m pretty sure the fundraising link is still good for at least a few more weeks, so if anyone wants to drop a little extra into the Team OLA hat, every donation helps no matter how small: ishouldberunning.com/chicago2021
The weekend wasn’t merely an athletic experience, it was also a faith-filled spiritual experience. So I’ll say it again, THANK YOU. I got a lot more out of it than I had expected. And of course, the families served by the Mission benefit most of all.
Consider running Chicago with Team OLA
Incidentally, I love this quote from Steffani Jacobs at Catholic Stand: “Just as a marathoner is never done training and continually strives for better running times, so, too, should we always be striving for more and better spiritual growth to grow closer to Christ.”
There is so much truth to that!
If you want the perfect combination of being an actual marathoner AND Christian activity, consider being a charity runner with the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels. I mean, why settle with a mere marathon / spiritual journey analogy amiright? You can find more info here: missionola.com/marathon