Runner From Down Under: Jude Hansen motivated for Chicago Marathon

Mon. October 5, 2015 1:34 PM by Ross Forman

Training TEAM supports Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Jude Hansen has dual motivation for the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which he is running on Sunday, Oct. 11, along with about 40,000 other participants.

He is running in honor of his mother-in-law, Donna Getsy, who is a cancer survivor; and also in honor of his Aunt Marilyn, who passed away in July, 2013. Her cancer happened very quickly, he said. "She was diagnosed and then, within months, she was gone," Hansen said. "At the time, I was a graduate student in Chicago and I couldn't afford to go home (to Australia) to say goodbye."

The marathon "is my way of honoring her memory."

Hansen, who lives in the Noble Square neighborhood, has called Chicago home since August, 2010 – coming here first for grad school. He is now a data specialist, working for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and he's preparing for the 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon with LLS' Team In Training, its official endurance-training program.

"There has certainly been a steep learning curve," he said in preparing to run his first-ever marathon, including what shoes and clothes to wear, what food and drink to consume, and how to pace himself. "By far the most impactful part of training has been meeting new people and hearing their stories and why they run," he said. "It's also good to know you're not alone when running the longer distances each successive week."

Hansen's marathon goal is clear: complete the 26.2 miles in less than four hours. And that's no easy task, especially for someone who, admittedly, had done "zero hours (of) running before signing up for the marathon training team."

"(There's) something about running consistently for longer than four hours (that) seems like a ridiculous concept to me. So I decided that I just had to be faster than that and have worked towards that goal," he said.

Still, Hansen admitted that running the 2015 Chicago Marathon "is definitely daunting." But he has a team supporting him every mile for months now. He trains with others from Team In Training along the lakefront path every Saturday morning, starting at Wilson Avenue.

"I'm confident that I'll make it to the end and even believe that I'll make my goal time," he said. "The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has a Team in Training program that helps runners achieve their own (goals) all while raising money for a great cause. I wanted to challenge myself to achieve something that was mine alone. I figured, if I can run 26.2 miles that should be inspiration enough for others to donate even just a little to the cause. If people donated just one dollar per mile I run, that would make a huge difference in the fight against cancer."

Hansen has, no doubt, run hundreds of miles over the past few months in preparation for that magical Sunday. "Our first training sessions (in May) were just a few miles and I remember that being a stretch for me," he admitted. "But now I can comfortably get up and just run a half marathon, (which is 13.1 miles)."

When he crosses that Finish Line, Hansen has a post-race plan, too. He's planning to pig-out at Paula and Monica's Pizzeria (1518 W. Chicago Ave.), enjoy ice cream too, and a bottle of champagne ... and then a long spa bath.

"I'm excited and anxious," for the marathon, he said. "It's my first race of any kind, so I don't really know what to expect, but I'm also hoping that adrenalin will help carry me through those last few miles. I know I've trained well for the race and having the coaches out there (on the course) certainly makes a difference."

When working at LLS, Hansen is the one behind the scenes supporting the fundraising organizers. "I receive and process all the donations and make sure the funds raised are allocated to the correct participant," he said. "I also send out our thank-you and acknowledgement letters and maintain all data and analytics for the chapter."

Hansen originally started at LLS in fundraising as a temp for its Light the Night event, which was scheduled to be for eight-weeks. But that has since developed into years as he's moved through different campaigns. "I was fortunate to coordinate the Regatta campaign last year and it was a record-breaking year on all fronts. I'm very proud of that achievement," he said.

Hansen said working for LLS has certainly helped with his running teammates. They know he's always there for their questions. "I feel it's important to lead by example and be prepared to put in the work yourself if you also want others to stand with you to fight for the cause," he said. "What I didn't expect was, how much training would enrich what I do in the office."

Fun Fact:

Hansen also is an actor, a gig that started at a very young age for him. Recently, he was seen in Some Men and Angry Fags (which was presented as part of the Steppenwolf Garage Rep series this year). But he has "most of all found directing to be extremely rewarding," he said. "Last year, I directed The Submission by Jeff Talbot and the experience was incredible. I worked with some amazing actors on a hilarious and topical script by a talented playwright. Ginneh Thomas, who played Emilie, even won a Jeff Award for the production. When I visited New York recently I was lucky enough to even meet up with Jeff and talk about the show."

Hansen is currently in development for a television series set in Chicago, a quirky dramatic comedy about a group of friends in Wicker Park who try to save the world from the perils of conformity, generic manufactured brand labels and poorly brewed coffee.

Donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on behalf of Hansen can be made at: