If you saw Andy Roberts running last Saturday morning, you would have thought he was just another runner getting in his workout for the day.
But his run was one of redemption.
Roberts ran the Illinois Marathon — again — four weeks after running the official race.
The Illinois Marathon was his sixth marathon, but his finish time of 6:03 wasn’t anywhere close to the 4:23 he ran for his previous marathon. There were a number of factors that led to a disappointing performance, but the heat was the biggest one.
“I quit three times during the Illinois Marathon, and my wife kept telling me each time, ‘You’re going to regret it. Keep going,’” Roberts said.
When he quit the first team, Roberts said, “I thought, I’m just going to walk the rest of this thing. That was at 15 miles, and I was delusional, thinking I was going to walk 11 miles.”
He later stopped at a first aid station, where he stayed for about 15 minutes, drinking water.
“I was hoping they would tell me, ‘You have heat exhaustion. You shouldn’t continue,’” he said. But they didn’t.
The marathon course goes within two blocks of his house, and when he reached that point, he left the course and walked for a block toward his house. Then he turned around and went back to the course.
All this time, Roberts was talking by phone with his wife Mary, who was at Memorial Stadium where she was coordinating the race’s volunteers. She urged him to continue.
“I knew she was right. If I didn’t finish this, I would just kick myself,” Roberts said. “And there’s the lure of the medal.”
While he got his medal, he was not satisfied with his run. He wished he could go back and do it differently.
Then he realized he could.
He chose last Saturday as race day. He went out in his car at 4:30 a.m. to drop bottles of Gatorade along the route, and he began his race at 5 a.m. on First Street and St. Mary’s Road. He ran the exact marathon course, and his wife met him at Memorial Stadium with his race medal when he finished and re-awarded it to him.
“It was much more enjoyable, it was satisfying and I was able to knock an hour off my time,” Roberts said.
He finished his run in exactly five hours.
The best part: bragging rights.
“At what I’m calling the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Re-run, I came in first.”