Area residents and drivers may have seen a peculiar site along Route 1 this week.
Cindy Lee Torres, carrying two walking sticks and wearing a high-visibility vest and floppy hat, ran along the side of Route 1 as she journeyed through Iroquois and Vermilion County.
Torres said her trip started outside her front door in Steger, which is located miles south of Chicago, on June 8 and took her down Route 1. Speaking with the Times-Republic on June 9, Torres said her plan was to follow Route 1 to Mount Carmel before turning east and heading into Indiana before concluding her trip in Kentucky.
Torres is an ultra-runner who generally averages trips of 100 miles or more.
Torres was partially inspired to take on this journey due to the fact that many of the long-distance running events she planned to participate in this year have been postponed or cancelled.
“I decided to do my own,” she said.
Torres felt this would be a good way to train for when she has the chance to compete again in the future.
““This is good practice,” she said. “Good training.”
Beyond training for future competition, Torres is also using the opportunity to raise awareness about Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).
Her grandson, Robert, was born with the disease and it wasn’t discovered until two weeks after his birth.
Robert had to have open heart surgery as an infant. While they thought that would repair the issue, Torres said her grandson contracted several infections and was hospitalized on numerous occasions over the course of the following six months.
After suffering a heart attack in August, Robert was placed on life support and passed away.
Torres named her journey after her grandson: the 351 Robert Alan Bowman (RAB) Memorial 260 Mile Memorial Ultra Run.
Torres said the “351” in the title referred to the route she planned to take and the amount of time she hoped to complete it in: three states, five days, Route 1.
Torres is chronicling her journey via the Facebook page “351 RAB 260 Mile Memorial Run” and is using the trip to raise funds for the Steger Community Outreach Program.
“They’re struggling right now, like everybody is,” she said.
Torres has met a lot of people along her journey and has been surprised at the great reaction and support she has received along the way.
“I was totally surprised,” she said. “The St. Anne girls were awesome and there was another girl in Watseka who gave me some gifts and water.”
Torres said she’s been surprised at how well word has gotten out about her journey.
“All along the way, I’m totally surprised as word is getting out,” she said. “Somebody gave me a free slurpee at one of the gas stations and they’re offering water. It’s just amazing. It’s just overwhelming.”