Righteous Runner

Image courtesy of Mission of Our Lady of the Angels

Sister Stephanie Baliga, ’10 LAS, is fast as well as faithful. The former Illini track and cross country runner previously completed a full marathon in 2 hours and 53 minutes— an elite pace of six minutes, 38 seconds per mile.

On Aug. 23, she ran that distance at a slower pace for a higher purpose. On a treadmill in the basement of the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, she ran 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 33 minutes and raised more than $140,000 for the Mission’s work caring for the poor and sharing the Catholic faith.

Since 2011, Baliga has organized and coached a charity team for the Chicago Marathon that has raised upwards of $200,000 a year for the Mission. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic both elevated the needs of the neighborhood—the organization’s food pantry has been serving triple its normal volume—and endangered this critical funding source.

When officials canceled the marathon in July, Baliga and key volunteer, PJ Weiland, a Chicago-area business and executive coach, got creative. Not only would Baliga go the distance, she’d submit it to the Guinness World Records, which didn’t have an entry for fastest amateur female treadmill marathon runner.

Read the full story at IllinoisAlumni.org


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