Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On the Waterfront

Across Lakeshore Drive from the Ravenswood Run, close to 1,500 runners competed in the Universal Sole Lakefront 10-miler on Sunday. As is usually the case, the quality was oozing in the lead pack as local elites Jeff Jonaitis, Greg Costello and Jack Kafel kept red-lining at sub-5 pace right to the chute. Jonaitis, of Tinley Park, won it in 49:40.5 to Chicagoan Costello's 49:42.4. River Forest's Kafel was right there with a 50:04.6 for third. The women's field was strong as well with Nell Shields of Chicago winning in 1:02:49.6, Any Thomas-Elder of Downers Grove second in 1:03:47 and Jules Rakow of West Chicago third in 1:06:05. It is a common thread among runners that Ravenswood and Lakefront unfortunately are run at the same hour on the same day each year. It can be frustrating. Congrats to all you Lakefront 10 runners and to Paul Peters at Universal Sole for another great event. If someone has a photo, e-mail it to me at

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chad and Karen, Who Are They?

2008 champions Chad Ware and Karen Prisby took the Ravenswood Run 5K by storm on Sunday, but who are they? I've learned more since the first post on this subject. Chad, an assistant track and cross-country coach at Northside College Prep in the city, placed second at the Jacksonville, Fla. Marathon on a very humid day in December, running a 2:29:09. He ran collegiately at Butler and is in divinity school now at Trinity International in Deerfield. Karen is a true rags-to-riches story. She walked on at Colby College in Maine after an undistingushed running stint at Cathedral High School in Massachusetts. At Colby, she started out 20th out of 22 on the cross-country team and ended up placing 12th in the NCAA Division 3 meet, attaining All-American honors, before she was through. Locally, she was under the radar at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, placing third in 29:16. She is an assistant manager at Fleet Feet Elmhurst and is dating men's runner-up Jim Akita, the Elmhurst College track and XC coach. Now we know we've got some new players in town. As I learn more, I'll keep updating.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

All's Good at Ravenswood

This was judgement day for my right knee. While it hasn't been life and death, the darned thing has been bugging me, sometimes painfully, over the last few months. So with a couple of Motrin tablets safely digested and a microwave heating pad firmly strapped on for the drive, I set out for the Ravenswood Run 5K in the city. Cutting to the chase, things went well for me. There was some soreness, but no excrutiating pain. I ran a controlled race and logged a 20:27. To be honest, I didn't think I would go that fast, even though it was 28 seconds slower than last year.
The race went past its "soft cap" of 3,500, with the field closer to 3,600, counting walkers, Fleet Feet's Dave Zimmer said. The course was reversed this year with the start on Hermitage going south and the finish on Wilson going east. With the exception of four speed bumps in the first half-mile, I really liked the course. I really didn't see any problems at all. It was a job well-done by the organizers.
There were plenty of heavy hitters present to hammer the fast, flat layout, crossing all age groups and both genders. For the complete list, check out the results page at
To tease you, the top three men (left to right above) and women (Haney-Prisby-Banai L-R))were:
MEN -- 1. Chad Ware, 23, Deerfield, 15:12; 2. Jim Akita, 27, Elmhurst, 15:20; 3. Dave Wilson, 39, Brookfield, 15:27. All three were under 5-minute pace!
WOMEN -- 1. Karen Prisby, 23, Wheaton, 17:34 (THAT'S MOVIN', FOLKS); 2. Alona Banai, 24, Oak Park, 18:03; 3. Amy Haney, 35, Libertyville, 18:13. All three were under 6-minute pace.
Two more performances of note: Vic Heckler of Chicago ran 19:40 to win the men's 65-69 group and Lois Gilmore of Janesville, Wis., ran a national class time of 27:21 to win women's 75-79.
It was a lot of fun to be there with my Elmhurst Running Club cohorts and to see some of my fellow "Fossils," our team of 50-plus runners for the Madison-Chicago Relay on June 6-7.
Well, I said before the season that I wouldn't get serious about the CARA Circuit this year. Hmm. That might change.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sam & Dave: Hold On!

The Valpo Mini Marathon (half-marathon) had its share of strong talent this past Saturday, but the 1-2 punch of Sam Cortes and David Ahner at 55-59 would be hard to beat. They would have been 1-2 in every age group from 30-34 on up except 35-39. The results please:
Place O'All Name Age Finish
1 8 SAM CORTEZ 56 1:22:07.2
2 10 DAVID AHNER 56 1:22:53.0

Who the Heck Is Stephanie Hood?

I'm not ashamed to say I wasn't sure who she was. But when she is living in Illinois (near St. Louis), and finishes 10th in a snappy 2:44:44 on the women's side at Boston, at least one inquiring mind wants to know. I found some info from a fellow newspaper-type blogger in St. Louis on this Canadian residing in Downstate Illinois.
Click here to see a little more on the "citizen's winner" at Boston:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Marathon Does It Again: 45,000 Strong

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is doing just fine. Weathering a storm of criticism last year when extreme heat caused the race to be stopped, Chicago reached its 45,000-runner limit on Wednesday, four weeks faster than last year. You can still get in via the charity route, but for all practical purposes, entries are closed. This only can mean that races in Milwaukee, Twin Cities and other locations soon will close as well as the Chicago trickle-down effect goes into action. Kenyan sensations Martin Lel (London winner) and Robert Cheruiyot (Boston winner) won't be running Chicago. Both were named to their nation's Olympic team on Wednesday. For the full press release, click here:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Scouting Report: Rollins Repeats at Boston

Many years ago, I was in Cub Scouts with podiatrist Carle Rollins. Today, his wife Nancy won the F60-64 group at Boston for the second consecutive year! Way to go Nancy! The ageless one ran an official 3:30:50. Illinois also has a connection to the 10th place woman overall, Canadian Stephanie Hood of Elsah, Ill., who ran 2:44:44. Kudos to Russian citizen Sergei Perminov of Chicago, our unofficial fastest Illinoisan today in 2:26:18. Hats off to all Boston finishers from the land of Lincoln and beyond. What a women's finish, ehh??!! And nice job to Robert Cheruiyot, who just keeps on winning. I'm jealous of all of you. No more computer time. I'm in cheeseland today.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Deena Does It, Moody's Fifth!

Gotta be quick. Deena Kastor played it coy and turned it on late to win in 2:29:35 at the women's trials in Boston. Early front-runner Magdelana Lewy-Boulet was second in 2:30:18 and Blake Russell third in 2:32:40. Our local angle? Tera Moody, a former star at St. Charles HS and winner of the 2005 Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th among other things, finished fifth in 2:33:54, a second behind Zoila Gomez. Tera lives in Boulder, Colo. now, but we'll claim her anyway. Heading to Wisconsin after a short run. Will try to blog from there.
846 runners from Illinois will be running Boston tomorrow in great conditions. Cool? You bet.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Deena Should Win, But . . .

Having seen 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor of Mammoth Lakes. Calif., get a little aggressive early and then hang on for dear life to win the Chicago Marathon in 2005, I give her a thumbs-up Sunday morning at the U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials, which will be run on a course almost as flat as Chicago's. However, I think Kate O'Neill, third at Chicago last year in the heat, may be close to the lead, especially if Deena goes out too fast. I'll say O'Neill, of Palo Alto, Calif., is a close second, with third place going to Elva Dryer of Gunnison, Colo., after a battle royale with Blake Russell of Pacific Grove, Calif. My wild card? Gotta go with Samia Akabar of Herndon, Va. Winning time? I'll say 2:28:20. They get rolling at 7 a.m. CDT. Hi to Chicago's own Claudia Becque. Go! Go! Go!

Sprouting of a Greenway

Long on the drawing boards, the Salt Creek Greenway is coming to life. The 35-mile trail will run from northern Cook County through eastern DuPage County back into south-central Cook County. A portion now under construction goes through Villa Park and Elmhurst in the tight corridor near St. Charles Road and Route 83. I checked out the progress and got this shot of one of two new bridges dropped into place on Thursday just south of St. Charles Road. I'm not too spoiled. I'll soon have three trails within a mile of the house: Illinois Prairie, Great Western and Salt Creek. For more info on the Salt Creek Trail, check out:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Moment of Truth: Wight Gets It Right

As co-director of the CARA Circuit's Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th race, I have been sweating the length of our "certified" 4-mile course since people deluged me after last year's race with complaints that it was too long. I tended to agree but had to defend USATF's measurers. We had our moment of truth today as USATF chief certifier Jay Wight and I dodged cars, cut tangents and stayed alive on our bikes, and guess what? The course was long by about 100 meters. How could that happen? Jay didn't know. The good news is we have a new measurement that comes out to 4.000027 miles! Jay is a real numbers guy. You have to be to do his job. It took us 15-20 minutes just to calibrate his bike for the measuring. You want to run the race? Check out:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Claudia Becque: Prancing With the Stars!

I have done a short e-mail interview with Olympic Trials qualifier Claudia Becque. She is very excited to be lining up with Deena Kastor and the other gifted runners who have qualified for Sunday's women's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston. For the interview, follow this link:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boston Beckons Becque

We have someone to cheer for on Sunday in the U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston (the day before the traditional Boston Marathon). Her name is Claudia Becque, 31, of Chicago. She is cutting it close though, having just qualified on March 2 with a breakthrough 2:44:52 at the Napa Valley Marathon in California (women need to have run 2:47 or better). That leaves a seven-week recovery -- just enough! Becque, who runs for the Fleet Feet Running Club, is a former all-stater in track and cross-country at Palatine and went on to run at Marquette. She warmed up last fall with a 1:00:59 at the Park Forest Scenic 10-miler and a 2:58:28 at the Berlin Marathon. Go, Claudia, go!

Our other qualifier, former Michigan State runner Jamie Krzyminski, 26, of Chicago (2:43:34) is injured and will be unable to run. We wish her well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Derrick the Dream Runner

Ever dreamed about that perfect run? I know I have. Chris Derrick of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville came awfully close on Sunday at the Arcadia Invitational, a major meet in California. This gifted Illinois runner ran 13:55.96 to blow away a strong field in the 5,000 meters. It was the sixth-fastest time ever by a high school runner in an all high school-runner field at that distance. It put him in rare air with all-time greats such as Steve Prefontaine and Craig Virgin. Check out this video. It's inspiring.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Newhart, Costello Oak Park's Sparks

It's always hard not to run a race, but only watch it. But with a bad knee (from too much skiing?), I did just that on Sunday and was treated to a nice fix of racing in the land of Frank Lloyd Wright.

A pair of 27-year-olds, Colleen Newhart of Oak Park and Greg Costello of Chicago, proved to be best in show as top dogs at the Race That's Good for Life 5K on the wind-chilled streets of eastern Oak Park. The CARA Circuit opener was in two parts, with Newhart taking the 9 a.m. women's race in 18:12.9 and Costello hot-footing the 9:50 a.m. men's race in 14:50.8.

Temps were in the 30s for both races, but runners did have the wind mostly to their backs for the last three-fourths of a mile on slightly downhill Scoville Avenue. Newhart bested Emily Dewald, 24, of Bloomington (18:20.2) and Heidi Sarna, 25, of Chicago (18:30.3), while Costello had to break Jack Kafel, 32, of River Forest (14:56.8) after both had broken away from third-place Joe Parks, 31, of Crystal Lake (15:11.6).

For full race results, go to

Lel Shows Me, Shows Them

Martin Lel showed he wasn't going to beaten in a sprint on Sunday (contrary to my post below) and won the Flora London Marathon in an event record 2:05:15. He beat my pick, Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya, who ran a very fast 2:05:24 and Abderrahim Goumry of Morocco, who claimed bronze in 2:05:30. American Ryan Hall ran phenomenally well, posting a fifth-place 2:06:17. That bodes quite well for Beijing. Hall is a solid No. 2 on the USA marathon list now, trailing only Khalid Khannouchi, who has a pair of sub-2:06s on his resume after getting US citizenship. Khannouchi had the London record of 2:05:38 -- until Sunday.

On the women's side in London, German Irena Mikitendo, running only her second marathon, stunned everyone with a 2:24:12 win. She was joined on the podium by Russian runner-up Svetlana Zakharova (2:24:39) and my pre-race favorite, Gete Wami of Ethiopia (2:25:37).
You win some, you lose some, whether you're running or predicting!
For a London Times story, check out:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

London Calling . . . Who's On First

With a "Doctor Who" marathon playing on Chicago's WTTW-TV tonight, what better time to prognosticate about tomorrow morning's Flora London Marathon. With apologies to "The Doctor," who has the advantage of being a Time Lord, and with his Tardis can predict London's future like it was yesterday, here go my predictions:

1. Sammy Wanjiru, Kenya
2. Martin Lel, Kenya (he gets a little surprise near Buckingham Palace)
3. Ryan Hall, USA (the kid can stay with the Africans and Asians)

1. Geti Wami, Ethiopia (no Paula Radcliffe, no problem)
2. Berhane Adere, Ethiopia (two-time Chicago champ!)
3. Salina Kosgei, Kenya

Friday, April 11, 2008


Nike has announced a new multi-year agreement with Bank of America to become the official footwear and apparel sponsor of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, beginning with the Oct. 12, 2008 race, as well as the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. Previous shoe company sponsor was New Balance. This deal has been in the works for a long time and surprised just about no one. If you want to run, no matter what brand of shoes you wear, sign up very soon. Fewer than 12,000 spots remain out of the 45,000 allotted.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Blog Born to Run

A running blog for the Chicago area? Why the heck not? Doing this has been on my mind for quite a while, and tonight, the gun finally has sounded. We're off and running, for better or worse.

I don't want this to be about me other than a quick introduction. My name is Bob Richards, and I've been covering running in Chicago and the Midwest for various media outlets since the early 1980s. My gigs have included more than 20 years at the Chicago Sun-Times and a stint as editor of Chicago Athlete magazine. I continue to write a column for Silent Sports magazine, but enough about me.

How about all those runners (more than 800) from Illinois who will toe the line at Boston on Patriots Day, Monday April 21? I don't know about you, but I get goose bumps just watching the famous race unfold on TV (VERSUS CABLE NETWORK). It's something very special, and so are the runners who make the trek each year from Hopkinton to Beantown's Boylston Street. And the women's Olympic trials the day before will be very cool.

Did you hear about the St. Pius 5K in Lombard last Saturday? I feel for the race director. The lead runners went off course not once but twice in a race that ended up being 2.14 miles. As national class 55-59 runner Sam Cortes said, "I just set a world record" as he clocked 12:09 for the bizarre distance. Sam was third overall. Two kids barely beat him.

CARA Circuit race No. 1 is Sunday in Oak Park. Want to see how a race is supposed to be run? This is the one to see. It's also one to dress for. It will be cold!

Quick tip: If you want to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, sign up now. There are close to 33,000 registered as I write. That leaves 12,000 spots. You go, Chicago!

Let's see where this goes. I look forward to hearing from you.