Face of the Race: Molly Genta

URBANA, Ill. - URBANA -- Storms put a damper on last year's Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, but some who didn't get to finish last time around will be back this year to try again. They're excited to get back on the race course.

Molly Genta's marathon dreams didn't came true last spring. That hasn't stopped her from hitting the pavement again this year with a slightly different goal. That's why she's this week's Face of the Race.

Running counts as "me-time" Molly and she deserves it. She's been pretty busy since the last time we caught up. It was a lot colder when we first met her and the rest of her family last winter. They were training for different races during marathon weekend, but when April rolled around, the snow turned to rain and the storms were too strong.

"I was determined to finish no matter what, but it was mile 19 that I got pulled off the course because lightning had struck," said Molly. "That was one of those moments where my heart sunk because I knew I wanted to finish but I knew I couldn't."

But Molly didn't let that keep her down. In her life, she's suffered through more serious setbacks.

"I was blistered and burned with second and third degree burns from the scalp line to the bottom of my feet," said Molly.

After an allergic reaction to antibiotics when she was 18, doctors didn't think she'd survive.

"When you think about that, I lost 95% of my skin," said Molly. "I was in the burn unit for 18 days. I fought literally for my life. I went into organ failure. I was given my last rites and my family was at my side. But I had the attitude that I wasn't going to give up."

She says that's when her passion for life truly started burning. She's made a lot of progress in the last eight years.

"Every single day, I feel blessed that I survived this illness, but it wasn't until this past year that I knew why I survived it," said Molly.

Since last year's race, Molly finished her masters in nursing and started teaching at the University of Illinois. Because of her busy schedule, she decided to set her sights on the half rather than training for another full marathon.

"This year, I would say, it's not about time," said Molly. "It's just about celebration."

Instead of keeping her eye on her watch, Molly plans to stop after every mile. She'll touch base with 13 different people who have made an impact on her in the last 12 months.

"I might be finishing in five hours for the half, but I'm going to call them and I think I'll take a selfie and send it to them at each mile marker," said Molly.

Molly says maybe next year will be her marathon year. So even though she's not planning to do the full 26.2 this time around, she's ready to run.

"My heart is here a little bit, but I'm really excited just for the camaraderie, to see all the people running and how everyone has a story and you don't know what their story is but it's awesome to see unity," said Molly.

Molly says the 13 people don't know who they are yet and her list could still change. She says her sister is also running the half with friends, but she plans to run solo so she can reflect on the past year.


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