Chicago Marathon runner races with ‘rider athlete’
At the age of 69, Peter Kline has not only run more than 100 marathons, but he has run more than 60 with rider athletes, giving people with disabilities the chance to experience the thrill of crossing a marathon finish line.
CHICAGO – After its cancelation in 2020, the 43rd annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon returns to Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 10.
One of this year’s participants, Peter Kline, is a VP at Merrill Lynch in Washington.
At the age of 69, Kline has not only run more than 100 marathons, but he has run more than 60 with rider athletes, giving young people with disabilities the chance to experience the thrill of crossing a marathon finish line.
This year, Peter Kline is running with rider athlete Peter Ruiz, a 38-year-old Chicago man with spina bifida, a congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord is exposed through a gap in the backbone.
This is the third time Kline has ran a marathon with Ruiz.
Over the years, Kline and Ruiz have formed a kindred friendship.
In 2017, Kline arranged a trip for the entire Ruiz family to the West Coast so Peter could run with him as part of a 100 mile ultra and in the Seattle Marathon.
And in 2020, when Ruiz was heartbroken that the Bank of America Chicago Marathon would not take place in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kline flew to Chicago and took Ruiz on a 26.2 mile run along Lake Michigan.
Training to push rider athletes is much different than training for a solo marathon.
Kline runs from his Bellevue home to his Merrill Lynch offices everyday with 120 pounds of weights in a specialized stroller.
The financial consultant also runs between 13 and 20 miles with the stroller on the weekends.
The marathon route looks a little different, too.
The duo maneuver side to side, securing as many high-fives and stopping to thank all the first responders they spot along the way.
“Several years ago, a client and dear friend was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and asked if I would run the Boston marathon that year to raise funds for cancer research. That’s when I began to think about other ideas on how I could help or inspire others through my love of running,” Kline said. “Peter’s a great guy and we love running together.”
When Kline first set his sights on running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with a rider athlete in 2015, Bank of America helped coordinate with the Chicago Park District and Special Olympics of Chicago, who connected him with Ruiz.