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Wendy Rivard

When Wendy Rivard filled out her entry form for the Humana Rock ’n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, she stopped on the portion of the form that asks if the runner has a special story to share.

Rivard started writing. Already a “Rock ’n’ Blogger,” who says on her website takinglongwayhome.com she has been running “most of her adult life,” she began to explain her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis.

Her story caught the attention of the people sifting through the entry forms. Humana, the event’s title sponsor, decided to profile the runner, to share her story in a new way.

Rivard was asked to come to the Rock ’n’ Roll Health and Fitness Expo for an interview. As she was filled in on the details, she learned Kathrine Switzer – the first woman to enter and run the Boston Marathon – would be in attendance for a meet-and-greet.

“I jokingly responded that I’d only meet with them if I could meet Ms. Switzer,” Rivard wrote on her blog.

When she arrived at the expo, that request was answered – with cameras rolling. Initially, Rivard was “speechless.”

However, “Kathrine made me very comfortable and we talked about running and running with RA,” Rivard wrote. “She told me I was doing all the right things  that I had to keep moving.”

Rivard’s weekend was already a dream come true of sorts, and that was before she even before she hit the starting corral, before she finished the race.

“I was floating on a cloud after that (meeting Switzer),” Rivard wrote.

Despite the Chicago event being Rivard’s hometown race, this year’s half was her first. With the race landing in July each year, the summer heat kept the runner on the sideline.

But, after putting together a plan that would work in the heat, she gave it a try.

About mile 10, the humidity began to really settle in, hampering the runners as they made their way down the back half of the race. Those final few miles were difficult, but Rivard crossed the finish line with enough energy to be photographed striking a “victory pose.”

Not only did she finish, but “Kathrine Switzer came over to congratulate me,” she wrote in her recap blog. “What? Was I dreaming? She told me to be proud of my accomplishment.”

And then, later on, Rivard thought, “Can any other race experience top this one?”

Rivard took a chance to run in the sweltering summer heat in Chicago. She was rewarded with an experience she will never forget. As she writes in the tag line of her blog, it is important to take on challenges like the one she just faced, “because sitting on the sidelines is no fun.”

Read more about Rivard’s journey at takinglongwayhome.com.