By: Lauren Isenman
Courtney Enloe is a trailblazer. She embarked on a journey to run the Abbott World Marathon Majors in February 2018, and this October 13th at 7:30 a.m., she will be standing at the start line in Chicago’s Grant Park to complete her last run of the series. The 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon concludes her journey to earn the coveted Six Star Medal. During her journey, she worked hard to raise $15,000 combined for the Tokyo, Boston, New York City, and Chicago Marathons via charity entry. She redeemed 8,000 New Balance reward points for 1 of 20 sought-after sponsor spots into the London Marathon. The Berlin Marathon was the only marathon she got into via the lottery. During this time, Courtney’s mom has been her biggest supporter and has also been battling breast cancer. Courtney is dedicating the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon to her mom. Here is the story of her remarkable experience and why she is dedicating her last race to her mom by running for Team Imerman Angels.
Courtney commenced this journey of running the Abbott World Marathon Majors because traveling and long distance running are two of her passions. Because of these two passions, she felt that she would thoroughly enjoy this adventure – even if it could be trying at times.
Courtney ran Tokyo in February 2018, Boston in April 2018, Berlin in July 2018, New York City in November 2018, London in April 2019, and will run Chicago in October. She will have completed 6 marathons in 20 months.
The Tokyo Marathon was her first World Major and also her first time in Japan. According to Courtney, this race was challenging because they don’t let the runners carry their own water bottles. Runners have to rely on course water provided every 2 miles. She said that despite the on-course water situation, her race went really well and the sights she saw along the course, including temples, were incredible.
The Boston Marathon was Courtney’s second World Major. Courtney states, “Running Boston is every runner’s dream and I am fortunate that Tufts Medical Center took me on as a charity runner.” She said that Boston was definitely the hardest race she ever ran due to the weather conditions: 30 degrees with wind chill and heavy rain. Courtney felt honored and humbled to run this race. She said, “There’s a lot of history to this race and you experience something special on every mile of the course. You see the iconic landmarks, you hear the scream tunnel a mile away, and you know you must push through the challenge of Heartbreak Hill on tired legs. You know you’re close to the finish when the Citgo sign appears.”
The BMW Berlin Marathon was Courtney’s third World Major in this endeavor. She said she was at mile 9 when she heard the announcement that Eliud Kipchoge won the race and set a world record. Courtney stated, “Hearing that announcement gave the runners around me a much-needed boost of energy on that hot race morning – we cheered and high-fived one another and for a moment we all felt like we made history too.”
The TCS New York City Marathon was Courtney’s fourth race. She said it was the most difficult course of the races she has run to date. “There’s 5 bridges you have to cross, and the Queensboro Bridge is the one that can make or break your race.” She said her favorite part of that day was the “Mile 27” walk back to the hotel after she was done because everyone around her was wearing the post-race blue ponchos, and she felt like she was part of a parade.
The Virgin Money London Marathon was the fifth race in Courtney’s journey. She said of all the majors, this was the race she would want to run again. She stated, “London’s enthusiasm for the marathon is mind blowing. This course is top-tier because you run by all the famous landmarks: Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and then finish in front of Buckingham Palace.” Courtney also said that amazing charity work is done as a result of this marathon, and all of the participating charities come out to cheer on the runners. “There are few moments on this course where you don’t hear someone cheering for you. All charities have a cheer squad section along the course and stay until the last runners come in. As a back-of-the-pack runner, I felt like I had great crowd support from start line to finish line – and they’re all 2-3 people deep, shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Finally, Courtney’s last race, the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, is one that will be near and dear to her heart because she is dedicating this race to her mom. Courtney said she did not want to leave her last World Major Race up to the lottery. She knew she wanted to be running for charity in her last race. While Courtney was running the World Marathon Majors, her mom was cheering her on — but Courtney didn’t know at the time that her mom was battling Breast Cancer. Courtney’s mom was diagnosed before Courtney ran Tokyo and her mom used Courtney’s races and travel as a way to distract herself from her cancer diagnosis. Courtney said, “My mom finally told me about her diagnosis just before I left for Berlin – more than six months after she found out. Once Chicago registration opened for 2019, it seemed like a no brainer. It was important to me to run for a cancer charity so that I could help others and do something for my mom, because she’s been my biggest cheerleader as I’ve run these races.”
On October 13th, Courtney will earn her Six Star Medal and run with Team Imerman Angels, to provide free, personalized one-on-one cancer support for cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers. Courtney learned from her World Majors experience that it is extremely important to have a support system when you are trying to conquer a challenge, especially a challenge as serious as cancer. Courtney will be running in honor of her biggest cheerleader, her mom, and people like her mom who are battling cancer.