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Team Olivet raises $75,000 for clean water

Posted: Oct 25, 2013


On September 8, 2013, these Olivetians ran with Team Olivet and Team World Vision in the Chicago Half Marathon: (L-R) Alexa Lautenbach, Kate Reynhout, Lindsay Morris, Sydney Hunt and Sarah Ready. They ran to raise money and awareness for clean water projects in Africa.

What happens when 131 people set a common goal and then race toward it? If we’re talking about Team Olivet, they enjoy the journey and reach the goal!

What was Team Olivet’s goal? To provide clean water for Africa’s people. This year, runners raised $75,000. As a result, 1,500 people in Africa will have clean water for life.

As the first organized university team to run with Team World Vision (TWV), Team Olivet had 131 team members run and complete either or both recent Chicago races: the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon on September 8 and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 13. TWV continues to be the charity with the largest representation in these races. Olivet alumnus Mike Chitwood ’93 is the founder and national director of TWV, and Rusty Funk ’07 is TWV’s Chicago area director.

New challenge for Tiger athlete

Robert Wagner (sophomore, mathematics major, Bethel, Ohio) was one of the Team Olivet runners in the Chicago Marathon. Although he’s an athlete on the Tiger men’s golf team, he never considered himself a runner.

“I didn’t run at all in high school,” Robert says. “This was my first race, first marathon and first time running with Team World Vision.”

Robert’s training began in summer 2013. While working at Chick-Fil-A and as an indoor/outdoor painter, he followed TWV’s training program.

“Training for the marathon is completely different than training for golf. With running, the training is following the program and performing at the race. With golf, there is much more technique involved, and it is more mentally challenging.”

Once the academic year began and he was back on campus, Robert had to work harder to keep up the training pace. “The number of miles to run each day continues to increase until mid-September. Then it declines so that you can rest your body before the marathon.”

Just two weeks before the race, the unexpected happened. Robert injured his hip flexor muscle. Although this didn’t dramatically affect his training, it did make a difference on race day.

Focus on the goal

When race weekend arrived, Robert was ready. He and his friends, Micah Plank (sophomore, actuarial science major, Sullivan, Ill.) and Zach Schinzing (sophomore, nursing major, Commerce Township, Mich.), had already planned to share the experience by running together.

When the race started at 8 a.m., Robert was in the second starting group and started a little slower because of his previous injury. Soon, he began passing other runners. “I’d been training for so long, and then I was actually there. It didn’t feel real to me.”

The crowd of spectators — estimated at 1.7 million along the 26.2-mile route — included several of his Olivet friends there to cheer him on. At mile 8, Robert was running at a steady pace to conserve his energy. At mile 13, he thought, This isn’t so bad. So he began to run a little faster, passing people and weaving in and out.

Mile 25 was the most significant point for him. “I was feeling tired. The cheering was getting louder. I heard the announcer’s voice. I thought about the lives I was impacting by raising this money. Then, I got a huge adrenaline rush and ran even faster.”

Robert ran the entire race in three hours and 24 minutes — without walking at all. One of the 39,115 runners who crossed the finish line in Grant Park that day, he met another test of his endurance. “As long as I was moving, I didn’t feel the pain. Once I stopped running, all the pain set in.”

Looking to the future

“This was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” Robert says. “I’d do the race again. I like the challenge of being able to do something extreme. And I like helping people in Africa. I call myself a runner now, and I’m looking for another marathon opportunity.”

“For 2014, we want to double our results,” says Wesley Sproul (junior, business management major, Kankakee, Ill.), one of the team captains for Team Olivet. “That means $150,000 to provide clean water for 3,000 of Africa’s people for life.”


U.S. states represented among Olivet's student body, as well as 17 countries