Global Running Day Celebrates Friendships, Fundraising and a Full Heroes Team

Global Running Day Celebrates Friendships, Fundraising and a Full Heroes Team

When Mary Connolly, the manager of the Mercy Home Heroes marathon program, set out to plan Global Running Day, she wanted its purpose to be three-fold.

It’s a chance to celebrate the team, kick off the training season, and recruit runners for the Chicago Marathon. But by 1 p.m. that afternoon, part of that plan was scratched—and for a good reason. All 300 of Mercy Home’s guaranteed spots for October’s Bank of American Chicago Marathon were sold out.

“It’s incredible,” Connolly said. “That’s always my dream. For me personally, it’s nice to have the team solidified because I can move from the recruitment phase to the engagement phase and start focusing on getting everybody fundraising and on board with the training.”

So our Global Running Day 5K event became more of a celebration of the beginning of marathon season as well as a chance for runners to get to know one another. This year’s event fell precisely on the first week of training for the Chicago Marathon and some runners came sporting their Mercy Home Heroes shirts.

“We want people to feel like part of a team,” Connolly said. “For every runner that’s running with us, there’s a different reason why they’re running and why they chose Mercy Home. They have a back story that made them understand why our mission is so important.”

Around 50 runners attended the event as well as three of Mercy Home’s partners. Dick Pond Athletics came with its van and apparel and React Physical Therapy and CARA (Chicago Area Runner’s Association) both set up stations to support the runners.

CARA is a nonprofit that advocates for runners in the Chicago area. It was started in 1978 and offers an 18-week program for runners targeting fall marathons.

“I think it’s a strong partnership we have,” CARA Development Manager Evan DeBock said. “With being Mercy Home’s training partner, coming out to their events, helping them out wherever we can and training their participants, so they have a memorable training experience.”

Brian Kim is one of 110 participants running the marathon with Mercy Home for the first time. While running a half marathon earlier this year, he was looking for a restroom when he spotted a Mercy Home tent. There he met Connolly.

“She was talking about charity running for the Chicago Marathon and at the time, I thought no way I’m going to do 26 miles,” Kim said.  “But I finished the half and I just felt amazing after that. I’ve been learning more about Mercy Home and the mission and everything and it’s been really cool.”

Kim really appreciated the positive community that running has brought him. At first, Kim wanted to get in better shape. Now, he feels like he’s running for something bigger than himself.

“It makes me feel like there’s a mission beyond me just trying to push myself,” Kim said. “That’s a good thing too, but it gives me more motivation, more drive to actually follow through and complete it. A lot of times just having that internal fuel isn’t enough to push you to do things that you wouldn’t expect of yourself. I think Mercy Home and their mission, and everything has been something that’s pushed me.”

Soon, the runners will turn their focus to longer runs and hitting their fundraising goals. But after they completed the 5K on Wednesday, it was a celebration filled with drinks, tacos, and a raffle. While most of the runners knew few or no people heading into the night, the tables were filled with conversation and laughter just one hour after the event began. So, for Connolly, the gathering was a success.

“No one got lost,” Connolly joked. “That’s always a good thing. Everyone seemed to have a really nice time. Everyone that I talked to was very happy to be there, was very happy to be there. It was a nice way to start off marathon season. The vibe was good.”

Thank you to Mary Connolly and everyone who helped make this year’s Global Running Day a success! And be sure to join us on the “Mercy Mile” outside our Home on West Jackson Boulevard on October 8 to cheer on our Heroes.

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