Former “Biggest Loser” contestant runs Chicago Marathon for Red Cross

Cassandra Sturos is a big dreamer. Prior to competing on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” some of the Michigan native’s dreams included moving to New York, becoming a writer and running a marathon. After leaving the show, she has completed the first two. Now she plans to complete the third through the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s Run Red team, a charity marathon team that offers participants a free spot in the Chicago Marathon if they raise funds for the Red Cross mission.

“The marathon is a bucket-list thing for me that I’ve always wanted to do, but wasn’t sure I could work up to,” Sturos said.

Before her stay on “The Biggest Loser,” Sturos enjoyed the sense of pride that accompanies running races, but a 5k was the longest distance she had ever run. While on the show, she challenged herself with her running goals and passed significant running milestones (pun intended). Now she can run a half-marathon without thinking.

Running for charity isn’t new for Sturos. Every race she has run has been for a good cause. So when she began looking for a place to complete a marathon, running the Chicago Marathon through the Red Cross made sense to her.

“I love the idea of running for a charity,” Sturos said. “Running for an incredible cause makes it mean much more. It really sealed the deal for the Chicago Marathon for me, running the marathon for the Red Cross.”

The October 7 date for the Marathon may seem a ways off, but Sturos has been hard at work preparing for race day.  She alternates days between long-distance runs and full-body strength training. Sometimes it isn’t easy (Sturos described one run where she was so hot and thirsty she considered jumping in the Hudson River), but she’s found that the combination of strength workouts and distance conditioning have improved her endurance.

With her training in full swing, Sturos is well on her way to crossing a marathon off her bucket list. But it isn’t just about completing the marathon for her.

“Not only is it a huge personal goal for me, I also do feel really passionate about the Red Cross,” Sturos said. “It’s an amazing organization and running for it will be an amazing accomplishment.”

A marathon can be a mind-bogging, seemingly unattainable running distance to some people. Sturos joked that even her mother, who she said “would support [Sturos] buying an elephant and riding it cross-country,” can’t wrap her mind around her daughter running the 26-mile distance.

But, clichéd as it may seem, Sturos thinks anything can be accomplished with hard work and determination. Sturos, who has completely transformed her life and followed her dreams to New York, is a living testament to the power of determination.

“Half the battle is telling yourself you can do it and being kind to yourself. I don’t think there’s anyone who couldn’t run a marathon,” Sturos said.

If you want to help Sturos realize a dream through the Red Cross, you can donate to Sturos’ Run Red fund. Or you can join the team if you want to realize a dream of your own. Also, if you have a chance, take a look at Sturos’ blog to see what this adventurous dreamer is up to at http://adventuredame.blogspot.com/.

Written by Patrick Cavanaugh

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