On Sunday, three District 91 teachers completed the 26 miles and 385 yards of the 28th annual Chicago Marathon. The unusually long length of the race commemorates the distance run by a messenger in 490 B.C., over the plains of Marathon in Greece, with news of a Greek victory over Persia. Reportedly, he died immediately after delivering his message.
The three Forest Park teachers, Jackie Botica, Marry Ann Murray and Sara Fergus successfully completed the same distance and survived. All three were first time marathoners.
Botica is a first grade teacher at Field Stevenson School, where she previously worked as a special education teacher for four years. She likes physical challenges and has always been athletic. She swam and played soccer in high school and works out regularly in a gym. She has done a 500 mile AIDS bike ride and plans on doing a triathlon in the future.
Botica raised over $1300 for St. Colettas School for handicapped children by soliciting pledges.
Mary Ann Murray is a T.P.I. (English as a second language) teacher at Field Stevenson and Betsy Ross Schools. She is the daughter of Jim and Ann Murray, who are also Forest Park educators.
Her time for the race was five hours and 13 minutes, and she said she felt strong all the way. “I never doubted that I would finish the race,” she said.
Murray started running to get in shape and discovered that she enjoyed it. She said that she amazed herself because she was never athletic and did not participate in sports in high school. “When I finally found a sport I was good at, I was happy and surprised,” she said.
In addition to running about 30 miles per week in training, Murray has also raised over $1,400 for AIDS research by getting sponsors for her fun. She mentioned that the hardest part of the training was giving up a good part of her weekends for six months.
Sara Fergus is an 8th grade social studies teacher at the Forest Park Middle School. Previously, she taught at St. Bernardine School. She was a track and cross country runner in high school and always wanted to run a marathon “because it is such a great personal challenge.”
Her race time was 5 hours and 15 minutes and she said it was a good race despite running on two very sore ankles.
Fergus said she was proud of herself for making the commitment to get up at 5:30 a.m. to train. She also believes that running is important to her health, especially since she has asthma, and she plans to continue running in the future.
School District 91 Superintendent Randy Tinder, himself a former distance runner, said: “The type of dedication that goes into committing oneself to run a marathon is exactly what makes these young women excellent teachers. They are prepared to stay in it for the long haul and to do whatever it takes to be successful, in our case with the students we teach every day.”