CTE teacher completes World Marathon Majors, earns Six Star Medal at Tokyo Marathon


Photo Courtesy of Christine Bell

CTE teacher Christine Bell holds her Six Star Medal after completing the Tokyo Marathon on March 5.

Elaine Zhou, Staff Writer

Naperville Central business teacher Christine Bell earned her Six Star medal in Tokyo on Mar. 5, completing the World Marathon Majors.

The World Marathon Majors are six of the most renowned marathons in the world: the Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, TCS London Marathon, BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City Marathon. The Six Star Medal is awarded when a runner completes all six marathons. 

Bell was waitlisted for the Tokyo Marathon during COVID-19 and received an email in 2021 for a spot. Bell arrived in Tokyo on Mar. 1 2023. 

Because of Japan’s strict COVID-19 guidelines, runners had to record body temperatures before and during the event and wear masks when not running. The Tokyo Marathon spanned 26.2 miles and Bell’s time was 4:05:32.

The marathon took place in the city of Tokyo and runners passed by many various temples and landmarks. The finish line was at the Imperial Palace. 

“Just think about [Chicago] for miles and miles and miles, all these tall buildings and that’s what you’re running through,” Bell said. “It’s just very, very different from any of the other marathons I’ve ever done. [Like] even [though] New York and Manhattan [are] so big, you’re hardly in Manhattan. You’re running the borough so you really don’t see the city.” 

Bell said only one percent of the population that apply get to run in the Tokyo Marathon. She started preparing for Tokyo four months prior. 

“I run year-round so I’m always running,” Bell said. “But you do [have to] plan for a marathon and you’re building your miles and how many miles you’re running each week.”

Training methods for Bell include cross training, lifting, yoga, spinning on bikes and of course, running 3 to 4 times a week.

Bell has been a lifelong runner and ran track as a hurdler at St. Charles Catholic High School and Southeastern Louisiana University. 

She started running marathons when her husband signed them up for the Chicago Marathon in 2002. It was during her second time running it when she learned about the Boston Marathon from her husband’s work acquaintance. 

“I [learned] a little bit about Boston [and] thought [it would] be kind of cool,” Bell said. “So I said I’m gonna try to [and] see if I can qualify for Boston.We went to our first Boston Marathon and I think it’s at that point that I really got hooked [on] running.”

Aislinn Hicks, a Central cross country coach and Accounting teacher, encouraged her to complete the World Majors. 

“Coach Hicks and I have [the World Majors] now,” Bell said. “And like every single world major, our names [are] on the wall [in Tokyo.] It’s a cool thing to be able to be at that level of competition.”

Bell balances work and running by sticking to a schedule and prioritizes her training goals.

“A lot of teachers say they’re having a very difficult time with work-life balance now, because the demands of our job have probably tripled,” Bell said. “So that is hard. I think I’m lucky because my kids are grown now. When I was first [running], they were little [so] I had a very supportive spouse that supported [me.]”

Due to health concerns, Bell plans to retire from racing in marathons. 

“My doctor has said I’m beating up my body and I know that,” Bell said. “I haven’t decided [if] I’ll go to Boston [again with the people I coach and run with], but if I do, then that’s gonna be my last one.”

Still, Bell plans to continue running. 

“I want to do the sport for the rest of my life,” Bell said. “I don’t know where I’m going with this afterwards, but I do want to run for the rest of my life. It’s just good for me.”