Cadet: Marla Brizel
Age: 26 | City: Chicago
Marla started running two years ago. Before that she was a cycling enthusiast, but suffered a serious bicycle accident that left her unable to participate in any sports for close to six months. When she was finally healthy again, she found herself out of shape and no longer interested in cycling. “My company announced that it would be fielding a team for the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge,” Marla says. “I knew I needed to start taking better care of myself and was unable to come up with a decent excuse for not participating. I was completely surprised to learn how much I loved the entire race experience and haven’t looked back since.
Her idea to run a marathon came to her after a tragedy in her life. “Approximately six weeks after my bicycle accident, a friend from high school passed away a mile away from the finish line of the Baltimore Marathon,” she says. “I briefly entertained the idea of running a marathon of my own to honor his memory but was quickly overwhelmed by the idea and pushed it from my mind. I began to consider it again this winter while training for my second half marathon. I realized that if I could not only survive but also thoroughly enjoy outdoor training during a Chicago winter, I could rise to the challenge of a marathon.”
Her goal for this year’s Chicago Marathon is to finish the race on two feet and “soak up as much fun and excitement as I possibly can,” she says. “I have set a new PR in every race I have run this year, so it will be nice to shift my focus a bit and simply run for the experience.”
Vet: Jason Dement
Age: 32 | City: Chicago
While he ran cross-country in high school, Jason Dement fell into the trap of many college students: A love of food and beverages caused him to go from weighing 165 at the start to 240 at the end. “I was a partier—smoking, drinking and eating to excess,” he says. He started running again when he decided to join the military.
“In the military, the primary concern seems to be getting bigger and running falls by the wayside,” Dement said. “I was in Special Ops, and you’re more effective and distinctive in that type of role if you have good cardiovascular health as well.” After the military, he worked at Fleet Feet Sports in St. Louis, where he fitted for shoes a young woman taking a marathon training course. She followed his recommendations and eventually went to work there as well.Two years later, they were married, and now they’ve moved to Chicago where Dement works for Fleet Feet Chicago.
Dement ran the Austin Marathon in 2008. “I thought I was done forever after that one,” he says. “But that was seven marathons ago. This year I’m shooting for a 3-hour marathon so I can go back to Boston.”