When 8K World Record holder and back-to-back Shamrock Shuffle Champion Stephen Sambu announced he’d be making his marathon debut at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the city was overjoyed. Now, with less than a month until the race, Sambu feels confident and ready to run.
Chicago Athlete: Why did you chose the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as your first marathon?
Stephen Sambu: The first reason is the people here; I have a great relationship with the Chicago Marathon and Bank of America because I ran Shamrock twice. The other reason is because the course is flat and nice – it’s good to start on a flat course.
CA: The race is coming up soon, what are your feelings about it?
SS: I am excited but I am nervous because it’s different and I’ve never ran the distance. But, I am also confident because of the training I’ve been doing. Most people, when they increase their mileage like that, they get injured, but I’ve been feeling good.
CA: Can you elaborate on your training a little bit?
SS: The only thing I’ve done differently in this training is increase my mileage. I’ve done a lot of 21 mile runs, and then did 22, 23 and ever 25. It’s been tough though; when you finish a run that long, you’re tired and can’t do anything else that day. I’m even tired the next day and have to take it easy. I did some long runs in Kenya but I’ll be doing the rest in Arizona.
CA: Since it’s your first marathon, are you just testing it out, or do you have a certain goal?
SS: My goal is to stay under 2:10, I really want to be under that time. I also want to make sure I stay with the lead pack, because once you let them go, it’s tough to close the gap.
CA: Let’s talk about your history a little bit, when did you start running?
SS: I started running in high school, mostly cross country and some track races. I went to junior college in Southern Illinois, actually, at Rend Lake Community and was the National Junior College Champion. I started my life in America here. Then I got a scholarship to University of Arizona and ran there, and kept doing races after.
CA: What’s your favorite race, so far?
SS: The 10K. It’s in the middle of almost every distance, it’s not short, is sort of long but goes quick.
CA: Will you be back in Chicago for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K in March?
SS: Yes, I’ll be back. I love running in this city so much – all the people cheering throughout the whole course makes me run hard, so I’ll be back.