Local Marathoner Profile: Joe Jao, Chicago Area Runner’s Association

We spoke with four different athletes from four different local marathon training programs to discuss this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon


Chicago Athlete: Why did you start running?

Joe Jao: I started running in 2008, I was 29, and it had been a few years since I was active; when my friends were having kids, I started worrying about being there for our children, so, I decided I need to focusing on my health. I did my first 5k in 2008, and ended up losing 50-60 pounds while training. Now this year’s Chicago Marathon will be my third marathon.

In 2013, we had a daughter who was born with epilepsy. She’s pretty developmentally delayed; however, she has made leaps and bounds so she inspired me to do it again. This year I’ll be running for the Ronald McDonald house where we stayed when she was first born for a while.

CA: What are you most excited about for this year’s marathon? Most nervous/anxious for?

JJ: Chicago’s so great, even though the times I ran it was hot, there’s nothing like the people around cheering. I’m also excited to see my family and friends being there for me to finish.

I think part of me is nervous about what I can’t control; October is just that sweet spot, or maybe sour spot… it can be really cool, really warm, or just right.  And really going into it just staying healthy not being injured.

CA: What goals do you have?

JJ: I am a slower runner, a back-of-pack kind of person, so I would like to be in 5:30, I’d be super happy. I’m doing the run-walk with CARA and it’s my first time doing that; it’s just a whole different mentality and gives me the mental breaks I need.

CA: What advice do you give to other marathoners?

JJ: With every mile and you go higher, celebrate those things. Especially for first time marathoners, celebrate it. My biggest thing was when I ran my first, I had 29 years of doubt telling me I could never do this, and it’s very easy to fall into that again.

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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 many distance races, and is going for her first marathon at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon this October. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism, and is working towards her Master in Arts in New Media and Marketing.


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