This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.
BY FRANCISCO HUERTA | he/him | English Learner Coordinator | Mansueto High School
“Hi, Coach! How are you feeling?”
I looked to my right and running next to me was Mia Corral – keeping the pace as my wife and I approached mile 24 of the 2022 Chicago Marathon.
Mia Corral is currently a junior at Mansueto High School and one of my students on the cross country team that I have the pleasure of coaching. When Mia found me, somehow spotting me amongst the 40,000+ runners, I was feeling tired, hungry, and in some pain. Mia provided my wife and I with an essential morale boost as we pushed to finish the 26.2 miles. But what was Mia doing on the course in the first place?
She was volunteering that day to support the racers, along with her mother and father, as part of the Midway Mile Chasers – a running club that her parents started up in 2013.
Midway Mile Chasers
The Midway Mile Chasers pose in front of their namesake: the Midway International Airport.
Mia is as gritty of a runner as they come. No matter the distance, weather, or workload, she always gives practice her absolute best. The Noble League acknowledged Mia’s greatness by awarding her Conference All-Academic Honors for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Her affinity for running definitely comes from her family.
Her mother, Celia Corral, and father, Martin Corral, have brought Mia on runs since she was in a stroller.
Running with Mia
Mia (left) running with her parents during her first race at 10 years old.
Mia and Dad
Mia (left) and her dad joined other cross country runners from Mansueto to run in the Hot Chocolate 5K in 2021.
For Celia, she started running as a means to improve herself.
“I always struggled with anxiety and anger issues and running helped me see the bigger picture,” Celia said.
Running made Celia feel stronger, healthier, and more confident. Eventually, Mia got too big for a stroller and so she began running races alongside her parents. Celia saw a lot of growth in her daughter and herself. Celia started running longer and longer races – eventually running marathons and ultra marathons at 50km. That’s 31 miles of running!
In 2013, two years after she began running herself, Celia and Martin decided to create the Midway Mile Chasers. She saw this as a way to help bring the community together and promote living a healthier lifestyle.
“With Midway Mile Chasers, we never leave anyone behind. No matter how slow or how fast. Moving is still moving. We will encourage you to never give up because we believe that running, walking, and being active is just as important as anything else in life,” Celia said.
The Midway Mile Chasers pose after a long run on a nature trail.
Midway Mile Chaser has grown over the years. They currently meet three times a week to train together and support one another. The club uses various races throughout the Chicago area as end goals for new and experienced runners. Celia and her crew have helped new runners achieve a 5k (3.1 miles) and even a marathon (26.2 miles).
But there’s more to this club than just running a specific distance. Midway Mile Chasers has always made it their mission to bring about healthy change in their community.
“We focus on the health part of running, especially in our Hispanic community where diabetes and high blood pressure is very common,” Celia said.
Their mission has seen a lot of success within the Midway community and beyond. The majority of the members identify as Hispanic or Latine and the age range is pretty broad and spans 10 to 60+ years of age.
There is also a large focus on teaching proper coping skills for depression, stress, and anxiety – skills that are important for kids and adults of all ages.
“We teach runners to zone in on their run and zone out of their problems,” Celia said.
Celia and her crew teach their runners about the meditative properties of running. Runners are taught ways to clear their mind and focus solely on the run, one step at a time. During runs, runners are encouraged to take in the world around them: to listen to their breathing and strides as a way to clear their minds. This allows runners to enter what many call a flow state and achieve what is called the “runner’s high.”
During intense exercise, the body naturally releases endorphins which allows the body to feel more relaxed and almost euphoric, despite the stress it is under.
A group of Midway Mile Chasers participated in the Soldier Field 10 Mile race.
The work that Midway Mile Chasers is doing was recognized and put in the spotlight in 2021 when Telemundo Chicago ran a story about the club. In the piece, a mother talks about being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, fighting through chemotherapy, becoming cancer free, and celebrating by running the Chicago Marathon. Midway Mile Chasers helped her become marathon ready.
It is amazing to have such dedicated community leaders and their daughter as part of the Mansueto community. The Corrals always show up at our meets to cheer on our runners.
On that day in the Chicago Marathon when I ran into Mia, the Midway Mile Chasers had been at one of the water/aid stations on the course since the early, early morning before the race had started. They and Mia were tasked with filling thousands of cups of water throughout the day to distribute to tired runners and cleaning up all the cups that inevitably end up on the ground. Mia and her family chose to spend their Sunday morning supporting not only the Midway runners, but thousands of runners like myself.
When she spotted her cross country coach, Mia decided to do what she was taught to do by her mother, father, and the rest of the Midway Mile Chaser family – provide support. She ran next to me for about two minutes, smiling and providing words of encouragement the entire way.