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Amber Miller, of Westchester, Ill., gestures during a news conference as she holds her baby at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Ill., Monday Oct. 10, 2011.Mark Black

Giving birth can be a marathon – especially if you race for 26 miles beforehand.

Second-time mom Amber Miller crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon hours before giving birth to a baby girl Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Contractions started partway through the race. Nevertheless, at nearly 39 weeks pregnant, Ms. Miller completed the marathon in 6 hours, 25 minutes and 50 seconds.

"I ran half and walked half, that's how I finished," said Ms. Miller, who told reporters she entered the race with her doctor's blessing. "I have been running all the way up until this point [in the pregnancy]anyway so I'm kind of used to it."

Ms. Miller grabbed a sandwich after the race and then headed for the hospital to deliver June, born at 10:29 p.m., weighing seven pounds, 13 ounces.

The impressive feat has left readers debating whether Ms. Miller is an Iron Woman – or an idiot.

"They won't allow you to fly at that stage of pregnancy, she decides to run a marathon? Lucky for her the baby was okay, otherwise she should be facing child endangerment charges," wrote Blueyz55 at the Chicago Tribune.

"Even if some doctor thought it okay and you are in tiptop shape, why would you do something that could put you and your baby in harms way when you don't have to?" added trishers01, who described herself as "a mom and a runner."

The marathon was Ms. Miller's eighth, and the second one she has run while pregnant, the L.A. Times notes.

Just because marathon running isn't the norm during pregnancy doesn't make it unsafe, said James Pivarnik, a professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at the University at Michigan State University, who wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent guidelines for physical activity during pregnancy.

"Generally what we say is let the woman's symptoms and history dictate what she can do," he told the L.A. Times. "She is obviously just one of those freaks who was able to do it. Most people wouldn't want to."

SarahWessPotter, writing at the Chicago Tribune, agreed: "Running is just exercise! What about running endangers her baby or pregnancy? Sheesh people!"

But marathon running is not without risk. In the same race Sunday, veteran marathoner William Caviness, 35, collapsed 500 yards from the finish line and died of an unknown cause. It was the sixth death in the Chicago Marathon since 1998.

Do you think marathon running in late pregnancy is okay?