Runners spread the word about Bermuda at Chicago Marathon
Local runners showed off their “Bermy pride” while taking part in the Chicago Marathon donning shirts, bags and tattoos provided by the Department of Tourism.
Natalie Dyrli, Steven Ortiz, Dean Smith and Summer Sipes proudly represented the Island in the race which is considered one of the five major marathons in the world.
Each year 45,000 participants from across the globe take part in the 26.2-mile run. The local participants said they met and encouraged dozens of people to visit our shores.
Ms Dyrli said she feels “so lucky” to live and train in Bermuda and tries to promote the Island whenever possible.
“We had shirts designed and printed here at the Pro Shop before we left, so we could show off our Bermy pride.
“The Department of Tourism gave us a bunch of shirts, bags and tattoos that we could pass out to promote the Island while we were there and we gave them to people we encountered hotel staff, waiters, tour guides etc, and everyone loved them.
“We invited everyone we met to come visit Bermuda. The Department also lent us a banner, which we proudly displayed before and after the run.”
During the marathon itself, she said strangers were on the sidelines cheering ‘Go Bermuda’. “It was such a great feeling,” she added.
Running mate Mr Ortiz said the local team didn’t intend to become ambassadors for the Island, but after being given some supplies by the Department of Tourism they decided to make the most of it.
“Tourism gave us a whole bunch of stuff to take with us and we just had a lot of fun and passed it out to everyone.
“It was great to promote the Island and we met so many people who said they wanted to come and visit.”
All four runners train regularly with ‘The Weekenders’ group, but amped up their routine four months before the event to get in tip-top shape.
Ms Dyrli said she has been running in the Island’s May 24 race for four years now, but said this was her first overseas marathon.
“Running a full marathon was really the next logical step for me. Having run in four consecutive May 24 half marathons, I wanted to give myself that next challenge.
“I truly believe that if you want to achieve a certain goal, all it takes is hard work and dedication. I put in the time and the training, and I surrounded myself with good, positive people who helped me stay committed to reaching my goal.
“Our trip to Chicago could not have been better, and we had so much fun promoting our Island out there.”
Mr Ortiz, nicknamed ‘Big Pappi’, said lots of people told him Chicago was a beautiful city. “I always wanted to go there and it’s meant to be a really nice, flat course. I really enjoyed it.”
He said he was “definitely” in pain when crossing the finish line in Grant Park, but said people in the crowd motivated him to push through the discomfort.
“It was fun to have so many people out there running with you. It just takes your mind off of what you are doing. We saw all these signs and people cheering for us.
“That helps you along and gives you the push you need.”