A family finish

A family finish

Laila and Solomon Geht have made a tradition of coming to the University of Illinois campus each April for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.

The Chicago couple runs the Friday night 5K together, and on Saturday Laila runs the half marathon and Solomon runs the marathon. Solomon -- a 2008 UI graduate in accounting -- has shown Laila some of his favorite places around campus. Each year they take a photo in front of the Alma Mater, visit their favorite restaurants and pubs, and hang out on the Quad.

“For us as runners, this has become our homecoming,” Solomon said.

“It's a really, really well-run race,” he continued. “We do a lot of racing around the country and even internationally, and this run -- besides the fact that it’s a walk down memory lane -- is one of our favorite races. It's a really nice vibe all weekend. There are a lot of elements that are attractive to long-distance runners in general, even if they’re not alumni. That's a really big part of what keeps us coming back every year.”

Blog PhotoThis year will be a little more special though. Waiting for them at the finish line after their races will be their new son, Charlie, born in mid-February.

“There's something really sentimental about having traditions, and for Charlie to see my alma mater ... it's special for us to celebrate the next generation and share memories we have of when we were younger with him,” Solomon said.

Laila was able to run throughout her pregnancy, running four half marathons during her second trimester and two 5Ks when she was 8 ½ months pregnant. She started slowly getting back into running about three weeks after she gave birth, running a couple of miles a couple of times per week. She often runs on a treadmill in their high-rise, with Charlie napping in his stroller nearby. She and Solomon have had to be flexible and adapt their schedules so they can get in a run whenever they are able.

“It definitely has been a challenge. There's good days and bad days. I’m keeping it in perspective,” Laila said. “It’s great that I've been able to get some mileage in. It’s really nice to be back to running.”

On the weekends, Solomon will watch Charlie while Laila gets in a longer run on one day. She’s done several runs between six and eight miles to get ready for her race.

Blog Photo“That's given me some confidence I'll be able to get through the half marathon,” she said. “It certainly won't be my fastest but I think we are both just looking forward to a fun race weekend.”

The couple is looking forward to continuing their tradition as a family of three.

“Hopefully as Charlie grows up, he'll be interested in coming with us. And who knows, maybe he'll be a runner someday himself,” Solomon said. “It’s nice to share something special to us with him. Seeing him at the finish line will be really special and will add a little bit to our experience this year.”


Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner, swimmer and triathlete. You can email her at jheckel@news-gazette.com, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.

 Photos: Top, Laila Geht was five months pregnant when she ran a half marathon in Salmon, Idaho. It was the second of four half marathons she did while pregnant. Solomon Geht ran the marathon. Bottom, Laila and Solomon Geht pose for a picture before running the 2016 Illinois Marathon and Half Marathon. The couple has persisted in their running regimen even after the birth of their son, Charlie. Photos provided by Laila and Solomon Geht.  

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