University community remembers Maroons runner

By Nick Juravich

“Her work ethic and determination were, quite simply, second to none,” said Pritzker medical student Tom Ring about his friend and classmate Margaret Bradley at a memorial service in her honor this past Sunday. During the ceremony, which was held in Fulton Recital Hall, the speakers returned again and again to Bradley’s remarkable ability to push herself and overcome obstacles as a student, musician, and athlete.

Bradley, SB’01, died this summer at the age of 24 while attempting a very difficult Grand Canyon trail run with a friend. Having misjudged the distance they were running, her friend became exhausted and was forced to stop, but Bradley elected to continue on in search of water and help. After running several more miles, she lost the trail and came to a dead end at a cliff. In the opinion of most experts, Bradley then lay down to rest, and passed out from heat exhaustion. Her body was found two days later by park rangers.

On Sunday, friends, family, teachers, and coaches came together to honor the memory of Bradley. Her family, from Falmouth, Massachusetts, spoke of her ferocious determination—beginning as a young child—and of her kindness towards others. Her mother shared a story of Bradley stopping to help up a fallen competitor during a major cross-country race in high school, despite the fact that the girl was Bradley’s archrival.

Dean of Medical Education Holly J. Humphrey conducted the ceremony, reading excerpts from Bradley’s application letters to medical school that demonstrated Bradley’s love of self-improvement in all areas of her life. Former Chicago cross-country and track-and-field coach Jim Spivey and former teammate Rhaina Echols told stories of Bradley’s distance running prowess and of her motivational qualities as a teammate. Three current Pritzker students shared their own memories of Bradley as an optimistic and committed student, as well as a great friend. Overall, the portrait of Margaret Bradley that was painted was one of a talented, determined, self-confident young woman whose passing was a tragedy.

Bradley earned her bachelor’s degree in biological and geophysical sciences. While in the College, she was a four-year cross-country and track and field athlete, helping the women’s cross-country team to a sixth place finish at the 1999 NCAA championships. A year later, she earned All-American honors in cross-country with a 28th place finish at the 2000 national meet. She ran 17:43 indoors in the 5k, good for second-best in Chicago history, and posted top-ten times in the indoor 3k and the outdoor 3k, 5k, and 10k as well.

Also concert mistress of the Unviersity Chamber Orchestra, Bradley logged one of the 300 fastest times for United States female marathon runners in the 2003 Chicago Marathon (2:58), and was training to make the 2008 Olympic trials in that event.