Q&A With Bank of America Chicago Marathon Elite Stephen Sambu

Stephen Sambu poses in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon office Monday afternoon, after chatting with Chicago Athlete about his first marathon.

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.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.


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