Runner/walker profile: Don and Roma Chenoweth

This is one of a series of profiles on runners training for one of the Illinois Marathon races.

Name: Don and Roma Chenoweth
Hometown: Champaign
Age: Don, 69; Roma, 68
Occupation: Don, retired political science professor; Roma, retired high school English teacher
Race: 5K

For Don and Roma Chenoweth, exercising is a way of life.

They are often running and walking at local races, and they are regulars at Second Wind Running Club’s fun runs each Tuesday in the summer at Meadowbrook Park.

Next, you’ll see the two of them doing the 5K race at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in May.

Don Chenoweth is a longtime runner who has run five marathons, his first at around age 40. He’d been doing half-marathons and shorter races in recent years.

But a battle with cancer slowed him down.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January 2007. He underwent treatment and was cancer-free in May of that year. In August, he was participating in the Champaign Park District’s mini-triathlon.

But the cancer came back, and he went through another round of chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant in July 2008. He’s in good health now, but the treatment took a toll. His legs aren’t as strong as they used to be, so he’s limited to running shorter distances.

But it certainly hasn’t stopped him. He still runs four to five times a week, usually about two miles; swims almost every day for 45 minutes to an hour; and golfs.

Roma Chenoweth had been a ballet dancer for most of her life, but after both her parents suffered heart attacks, she took up walking. She walks three miles every day — a habit she’s had for 25 years now.

She also walks in the pool every day for 45 minutes.

“It takes a chunk out of the day, which I couldn’t do if I weren’t retired,” she said.

“I think it’s kind of a compulsion with both of us to exercise,” Roma continued. “It’s part of our lives. We don’t feel right if we don’t get it in.”

Neither could participate in any of the Illinois Marathon races last year. Don was still recovering from his treatment and Roma was caring for him.

“I was down at Hessel Park cheering people on,” Don said.

They’re both looking forward to being a part of the 5K this year, with Don running the race and Roma walking it.

“I’m going to do the best I can. I may even be able to jog the whole thing without walking,” Don said.

“I’ll be pushing it,” to do the 5K, he continued. “But I don’t care what I feel like at the end, just as long as I get to the end.”
 

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