While most high school juniors sat quietly in the classroom on Friday focusing on academic work and anticipating the weekend ahead, South Aiken High School student Robert Boland was a world away from writing and arithmetic as he flew to Chicago, Ill., to participate in Sunday's 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The race, which allows up to 45,000 runners representing more than 100 countries and 160 charity teams, is the 16-year-old's first attempt at a marathon, he said. "I've always liked running, but I've never been on a team until a few years ago," Boland said by phone on his way to the airport before he departed for the Windy City. He began competing in his freshman year at South Aiken and runs on the varsity cross country team as well as the track and field team during the spring. "It's been really fun, and I've been running a lot more and have developed a lot of great friendships and everything," he said. Boland's first major goal was reached last October when he ran a half-marathon in Augusta, finishing around an hour and a half with an anticipated finish time of two hours. His plans to reach his goal for the full marathon have been backed by countless hours of training, including longer-than-normal runs on the weekends, two 8- mile runs every day and a lot of cardio workouts. "I just want to get under four hours," Boland said. "(A time of) 3:15 would be like a dream goal - that's probably like the best that could happen." Running this marathon is not just about meeting a goal time, though. Both Boland's parents and grandparents own McDonald's franchises in Aiken and Edgefield counties, and Boland will race as part of the Ronald McDonald House Charities team. "We are extremely proud of him," said his mother, Angela Harrelson. "We've got lots of family and friends on Facebook following us this weekend to see how he does." "On Sunday, I'll probably feel like I did something for the charity, and it will be a great honor," Boland said, adding that he has raised more than $1,000 for the charity since May. And regardless of his finish time for the marathon, "I know that I'm doing something to help somebody else, which is already rewarding," he said.