Matt Marol grew up watching his cousins compete at Illinois state meets and college track meets, which helped foster his love of the sport. By high school, he had begun his competitive career, and continues to run to this day. After running for Miami University in Ohio for four years on its cross country and track teams, Marol picked up road races. He had a 2:23:51 finish at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2014 and logged a 2:25:27 at the Houston Marathon this year, good for 29th place overall. Marol, who runs for the New Balance Chicago Racing Team, hasn’t settled on which major races he’ll compete in later this year, but says he may focus on running a fast half marathon between now and a few years from now, when he’ll turn his attention to achieving a marathon Olympic Trials qualifying time.
Chirine Njeim will head to Rio this summer to compete in the Summer Olympics, but it won’t be her first Olympic experience. The former alpine skier has competed in the Winter Olympics three times on behalf of Lebanon, where she was born and raised. After moving to Chicago with her husband, she picked up running as a way to stay active, and raced for the first time at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in 2010. She and her husband ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2012, and after that, she says, she was hooked. Njeim, a Fleet Feet – Nike Racing Team member, qualified for the Olympic Marathon with a 2:44:14 in Houston this January, and hopes to improve her time at the Games this summer.