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Dance Marathon participants run Chicago Marathon

University of Iowa junior Stephanie Lindblom ran her first marathon on Sunday.

Lindblom, a UI Dance Marathon morale captain, was one of 80 individuals participating in Dance Marathon who ran in the Chicago Marathon.

“It was actually really good until mile 19,” Lindblom said of the 26.2 mile race. “Then it went downhill. It was rough.”

But Lindblom said the cause is worth the exhaustion.

For the past three years, some Dance Marathon participants have gone to Chicago to take part in the race, where they begin raising money for pediatric cancer patients.

Each participant was required to raise $350 in order to run in the marathon. That figure is on top of the $400 needed to participate in “The Big Event” in February.

Tom Truong, Dance Marathon’s development director, said all 80 runners met or exceeded those requirements, which brought the total funds raised for this year to at least $28,000. In addition to participants who are students or directly involved with Dance Marathon, Truong said, the organization recruited runners not associated with the program, including one man who came from Waterloo.

“Support from students is great,” said Truong, a first-year pharmacy graduate student. “Support from external sources is something we wanted to work on.”

Last year, nearly 175 runners associated with UI Dance Marathon participated in the race, which was double the number of runners from the previous year. Truong said he wasn’t sure what accounted for this year’s drop.

The UI’s was the only Dance Marathon in the nation to participate.

“It kind of gets the word out outside of Iowa City,” said Nic Rusher, a UI senior who participated in his second marathon this year.

Rusher, also a Dance Marathon morale captain, said the race was “not terrible,” but he admitted he was a little slower this year and pointed to the heat as a possible cause.

Since it began in 1994, UI Dance Marathon has raised more than $8.6 million for pediatric cancer patients, which makes it one of the best fundraisers of its kind in the country.

To date, Dance Marathon officials have recruited roughly 2,000 participants, up from 1,200 at this time last year, Truong said.

For the first time, Dance Marathon participants will have a chance to run in the Des Moines Marathon next weekend.

On Sunday evening, UI freshman Sara Stewart said her feet and legs were very sore, but she called the race “awesome” and said she thinks people are more willing to donate if they know she participated in a marathon.

“Towards the last five miles, it was really hard,” said Stewart, who was confident she would run again next year. “I kept remembering, we’re doing this all for the kids. It doesn’t compare to what they have to go through when they’re in the hospital.”