Entries in Chicago Marathon (2)


Legless Marine Conquers Marathon

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- When more than 38,000 competitors set off Sunday at the Chicago marathon, few of them likely had a more incredible journey to the start line than Ben Maenza.

Maenza, a Marine lance corporal, lost both his legs two years ago when they were blown off by a bomb in Afghanistan, weeks after his deployment there had begun.

But instead of losing his competitive nature, Maenza was fueled by his injuries. Using a hand bike, he has now competed in multiple marathons and even ridden across the country from Florida to California.

“People think you can’t do stuff like that without your legs, so being out there and proving that you can and making it happen, it’s really gratifying,” Maenza, 24, said in a phone interview from his hometown of Nashville, Tenn.

That motivation to succeed on his bike came at a crucial time for Maenza.

After leaving Afghanistan, he spent a year and a half in rehabilitation at the Walter Reed Medical Center outside of Washington, D.C. It was there that he started talking to Achilles International, a group that helps athletes with disabilities.

“It was exactly what I needed at that point in my recovery,” he said. “I was at a crossroads. They came in and gave me a way to get a sense of accomplishment. It gives you something to work towards, the knowledge that you are capable and you can do it.”

“I never really was a runner or a cyclist before, but when Achilles approached me and asked me to do it, it kind of lit a fire in me and, quite frankly, I’m pretty good at it.”

During his races, Maenza feeds off the crowds, mentioning the motivation he gets from seeing fans waving U.S. flags.

“When people cheer for you, I get goose bumps,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”

Maenza had to overcome some equipment problems Sunday in Chicago, but he still managed to finish the marathon in an hour and 48 minutes.

“Obviously, I was a little slower than I intended, but I’ve got a good excuse, my wheel was broken,” he said.

Maenza also has academic goals to go with his athletic ones. He hopes to earn a college degree, and do it with a 3.0 GPA to boot.

“As silly as it may sound, the only thing that’s intimidated me is school. I am terrified of it,” he said. “People think you’re a Marine, you’re tough. But I’m a human being, you know? I’m just a normal guy, just missing my legs. That’s it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marathon Mom: Pregnant Woman Finishes Race, Delivers Baby 

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Amber Miller accomplished two monumental feats this weekend.

Days from her due date, the 27-year-old joined 45,000 other runners to participate in Sunday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon and then gave birth to a baby girl named June hours later.

Miller, an avid runner, said she signed up for the 26.2-mile race before finding out she was pregnant. She said she never expected to finish the race.

"I was having a conversation with my parents and said, 'You know what? I have no plans of actually finishing,'" she told reporters at Central DuPage Hospital this morning. "I was planning on running half, skipping to the end, then walking across the finish line."

But Miller and her husband started running, and just kept going. They ran part of the race and walked the second half as her contractions started. It took the couple 6.5 hours to finish. She said she grabbed something to eat and the two headed to the hospital.

"It was very interesting hearing people's reaction," Miller said about crowds watching an extremely pregnant woman among the runners. "I've been running up to this point anyway, so I'm used to it."

At 7 pounds, 13 ounces, baby June entered the world at 10:29 p.m. Sunday, just hours after her parents crossed the finish line.

Dr. Jacques Moritz, a medical contributor for ABC News and director of gynecology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, said that while Miller's story was "outside of the norm," he did not think she put her baby or herself in danger.

Moritz said new recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists allowed a pregnant woman to do moderate, strenuous exercise as long as she could hold a conversation.

He said Miller, whom he has not treated, seemed to be in good cardiovascular health, was young and fit and ran throughout her pregnancy.

Moritz said that while she was not likely comfortable carrying the additional 20 pounds of baby during the race, "as long as she did not become winded during her exercise portion, the running part, she was fine."

"You have to be able to breathe," he advised pregnant women who wanted to exercise. "If you're not getting oxygen, the baby is not getting oxygen."

Miller has now completed eight marathons -- three of them while pregnant. She ran one when she was 17 weeks pregnant with June, and another when she was pregnant with June's older brother Caleb.

She said that it normally takes her about 3.5 hours to complete 26 miles. Miller said that after Sunday's grueling events, she just might hang up her sneakers for a while.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio