Running: Melin goes the distance for a challenge
Maddy Melin, 15, was the youngest of 12 members on the Rank Strangers that participated in the 195-mile overnight relay.
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:12AM
Lesley Melin knows her daughter Maddy has always thrived on challenges.
So when Lesley’s boyfriend, Steve Smith, encouraged her daughter to compete in the Ragnar Relay race from Madison, Wis. to Grant Park in Chicago, she knew there would be no backing down.
“She loves to be challenged and is inspired by it,” Lesley Melin said. “Steve was smart enough to realize that this would be a good challenge for her. She really rose to the occasion and now she’s addicted to running.”
The 15-year-old Maddy Melin was the youngest of 12 members on the Rank Strangers that participated in the daunting task.
The team completed the 195-mile overnight relay, which began at 8:30 a.m. June 8, finishing at 2:12 p.m. June 9, with Montrose Harbor serving as the finish line.
“It was a great experience,” said Maddy Melin, who will be a sophomore at Hinsdale Central in the fall. “I’d love to do it again. Meeting all the people was great. You really get to know them when you spend that much time together. I was the youngest and I definitely was intimidated, but everyone was great with me.”
Soccer has been Melin’s passion since she was 3, but that could be changing.
She has played club soccer with the Hinsdale Hurricanes, Eclipse and Windy City Pride. This past spring, she played on the Hinsdale Central freshman team.
Running, however, is quickly closing the gap as Merlin’s favorite activity since Smith introduced her to long-distance running when she was 14.
“I never did cross country or track before,” said Melin, who also recently placed first in her age division and third overall in the Darien Dash. “My mom’s boyfriend got me into it and I started loving it. I never thought I’d be a runner. I always just thought I’d be a soccer player, but now I’m trying to get into cross country at Hinsdale Central.”
Melin ran three legs in the race, totaling 17.9 miles. Her first leg was at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and then she raced 7.1 miles beginning at 2 a.m. and started her final leg at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Runners wore lights on their heads while running through the night.
They did their best to avoid cramping by eating bananas and apples and stayed hydrated by drinking plenty of water and Gatorade.
After completing her final leg with nine miles remaining in the race, Melin handed off to the last runner and never stopped running. She raced through Northwestern University’s athletic fields and jumped into Lake Michigan to cool off and celebrate her achievement.
“My favorite leg was probably at 2 in the morning,” Melin said. “I thought I would be more tired, but I wasn’t. We were just getting to Lake Michigan and seeing it at night time was beautiful. The last leg was kind of tough to complete. The best part of the race was probably jumping into Lake Michigan. I was really happy I accomplished something like this. I never thought I could do anything like this.”
The team had two vans full of participants and supporters, including Lesley Melin.
“It was an amazing life-changing experience for her,” Lesley Melin said. “I give a lot of credit to Eric (Engdahl) who managed the team and created the experience and all the people on the team for being very supportive. Running a race like this is a total team effort and teaches kids about working together as a team, being supportive and learning from the older people in the race. There was so much camaraderie and she loved the running and physical challenge. She had never been exposed to anything like this before.”