Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Numbers Game

Packet pickup for the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th took place over the weekend at Dick Pond Elmhurst. Handing out numbers, goodie bags, T-shirts and everything else associated with packet pickup, Anne Klein (left) Karen Leavitt (center) and Lori Wallace of the Elmhurst Running Club gave up their Sunday afternoon for the cause. It was worth it. We still expect close to 1,000 runners on Friday, and the more packets given out, the better off we'll all be. Next pre-race pickup is 3-7 p.m. on Thursday at Elmhurst College. I'll admit I love this stuff, but we're into the nerve-wracking stage now.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Turning the Corner

Well, a tight-knit bunch of us, 280 to be exact, ran the Palatine Race for Young Life 5K this morning in humid but manageable heat. I hadn't done this one in two years, and this time we apparently ran the course the way it was measured, with six left turns coned off down the middle of the street. There was no tight tangent running with tight corners this time out. We all got somewhat slow times, but as someone once said, time is relative. The reality is that when we ran fast times here in the past, the course probably was short. I was left in the dust in my age group, but still ran OK with a 20:46. Sure, I'd love to go faster, but it is what it is.
The men were led by Patrick Rizzo, 24, of Rochester, Mich., who ran a blistering 14:54.40. Dave Wilson, 39, of Brookfield, followed in 16:02.30 and Dennis Baliga, 18, of Rockford, was third in 16:22.30. On the women's side, Katie Hauser, 26, of Ingleside, coasted in 18:18.60. Next were Sanya Syrstad, 42, of Glen Ellyn in 18:57.80 and Stephanie Hughes, 19, of Chicago, in 19:48.30. It was fun to meet Nettie before the race. Here's a big hello to a loyal reader.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Going Forward (What's the Alternative?)

It's been a bit busy the last couple of days as we move ahead into final prep for the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th. We had our packet-stuffing party last night. I personally saw marathon runners wearing down from the constant shuffling and movement the four hours of stuffing required. Now, we get everything set up at Dick Pond Elmhurst tonight for the first two days of packet pickup on Saturday and Sunday. The second round is Thursday and Friday at Elmhurst College. It gets complicated though. I'm going to the Palatine Run for Young Life 5K race tomorrow not just to run, but to get a good picture or two of Chip distribution and also to pick up our race numbers, which will have been processed through 8 p.m. tonight for pickup tomorrow by tireless Julie Pearson at Race Time. Meanwhile, I'll be watching the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials tonight on USA and tomorrow and Sunday on Channel 5. Between that and Cubs-Sox, I'll be putting in overtime on the tube. A special good luck goes out to nephew Pete in the Alcatraz swim!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mary Decker Slaney at 50

If you're looking for something interesting to read and view on a rainy day in Chicago, look no further. With the U.S. Olympic Trials coming up, good friend and geek Mike Prizy forwarded this excellent interview (make sure you view the video . . . it has her famous wins in the 1,500 and 3,000 at the worlds in Helsinki in 1983). Check it out.

Taking Life to the Extreme

John Gervais is the kind of crazy race director I love. He puts on the Sam's Club Waterfall Glen X-treme 10-miler, and from what John says, they are close to their 800 cap for the July 26 CARA Circuit event. Meanwhile, John is coming back from an unusual injury. Yep, he took life to the extreme; he was in a motorcycle wreck. In his own words, "it will be months until I'm running." We wish John well, and if you want to run the X-treme, get in asap.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gettin' Down in Downers Grove

Thunder, lightning and rain jumped the gun by about 12 minutes on Sunday. It stopped in a couple of minutes and the CARA Circuit 5-miler and accompanying 10-miler went off as scheduled at 7:30. Winners were Dave Wilson, 39, of Brookfield, in 26:27.15, and Michelle Plummer, 31, of Gilberts (PHOTO), in 31:41.40. A lot of key CARA players were there and the hilly course hasn't gotten any easier! I definitely felt the effects of a nine-miler the day before (stupid!), and was about 53 seconds slower than last year with a 34:03. They had a good turnout with many very strong runners seeking CARA points along with some good old glory. I was fifth in boomer-heavy M55-59, and would have been second in M45-49. Go figure. Lesson learned. Don't put in a marathon training run the day before a Circuit race. Amen.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

California Creamin'

They don't run the 2-mile very often any more, but they did on Friday night (June 20) at thye 18th Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. Prep star German Fernandez of Riverbank, Calif., smashed the 29-year-old national record with an 8:34.40! ALSO! Don't miss Chris Derrick's Dispatches. Very cool! Read all about it at:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scootin' for Jim

They ran hard and fast on Thursday night at the Jim Gibbons Memorial 5K, honoring the former Channel 7 newsman. The men were led in by Brent Alexander, 27, who won in a very strong 15:13, edging Ryan Giuliano, 23, who ran 15:14. Emisael Favela, 31, was third in 15:20. I couldn't help but notice the next name. Jim Akita of Elmhurst, grabbed fourth in 15:50. He'll be trying to regain his title July 4 in the 4 on the 4th. On the women's side, Jukotade Agunloye, 28, won in a snappy 17:46, with Jessica Thomas, 27, second in 18:38, and Karen Prisby, 23, third in 18:42. So who is Jukotade Agunloye? So far, all I know is she tore up the track at Swarthmore College in 2001, earning All-America honors in the distance events. A special cheer for ABC 7's own John Garcia, who ran 20:54, good for third in the M40-44 group, and good friend Paul Oppenheim, who churned to a 25:21, second in the M60-64 category. I've never done the Gibbons run. It draws a great field for a great cause. Bravo!

Oldies (sort of), But Goodies (definitely)

One of the perks of being a race director is seeing who is registered to run. I am so pleased to announce we'll have Nancy Rollins, 61, of Evanston, Lois Gilmore, 77, of Janesville, Wis. and Bob McKeague (Ironman Bob), 83, of Villa Park, in the field for the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th (July 4). Each is nationally ranked in her or his age group. We are honored to have them. Plenty of spots remain in the 1,000-runner field. Check out

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

L.A. Marathon, Chicago Half-Marathon Sold

The business of road racing is not easy, as Chicago's Chris Devine knows first-hand. The following story appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 13. As you'll see, the Chicago Half-Marathon has been sold to a company in Dallas. I added bolds and italics.

Deal is reached to sell the Los Angeles race
Company that operates the marathon needed cash to pay creditors. Chris Devine takes the blame.

By Greg Johnson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The operator of the Los Angeles Marathon said Friday that he has reached an agreement to sell the race to an investor group led by L.A. businessmen David Kingsdale and Russ Pillar for an undisclosed amount of money. The sale, which would take several weeks to be completed, is being driven by Chicago-based Devine Racing Management's need to raise cash to pay creditors from past marathons in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. There have been missed or delayed payments to some vendors and bounced paychecks for race-day workers.
Company founder Chris Devine on Friday shouldered the blame for the financial difficulties that have dogged the L.A. Marathon for two years.
"This is all on me," Devine said during a phone interview. "I disappointed the market, the running community and I disappointed myself . . . To own the L.A. Marathon and screw it up is a monumental failure.
"The new folks have a good opportunity," he said. "They're going to really capitalize the race and take advantage of this situation."
Kingsdale on Friday declined to comment on the deal, saying only that "we look forward to completing a transaction in the near future."
It was uncertain what role L.A. Marathon founders Bill Burke and Marie Patrick would play once a deal is closed. Burke, who along with Patrick had retained management roles after Devine bought rights to the race in 2004 for a reported $15 million, on Friday declined to comment on his future role with the race.
Any sale of the operating rights must be approved by the city, which owns the race.
Devine, who had been struggling to increase the number of elite runners in the L.A. Marathon, said that the sale of the Banco Popular Half Marathon in Chicago earlier this week to a Dallas-based race operator, and the sale of the L.A. race, would generate sufficient funds to pay what he owes in Las Vegas.
Devine also said that upon completing the L.A. deal, his company would have sufficient cash to "completely clean the slate in Los Angeles."
Kingsdale, an avid runner, owns DLK Inc., an entertainment and media company. Pillar most recently was vice chairman of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, Inc., and previously was an executive with Viacom and

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hoist the Flags!

Well, it's Flag Day for me today. Yep, I'm going shopping for flags. It's my newest duty as co-director of the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th race. This year, as a CARA Circuit race, we are required by CARA to have race condition flags at each aid station (we have four stations) to indicate safety conditions for the runners. There are no guidelines other than color, and we have to supply the flags. Nice, huh? We'll have four flags ready at each station: Green (proceed); Yellow (proceed with caution); Red (return to start); Black (You will be picked up).
This should be interesting. The part I like the least is that it is up to the race director to determine the conditions. Hello, lawsuits? Oh well. Another thing I don't like is that some other CARA Circuit races have not been fulfilling this requirement. I don't want to risk us getting kicked off the Circuit, so we'll adhere whether we like it or not. Hope to see you on July 4.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Steamboat: Moroccan Wins, Kenyan Misses Boat

A pair of 26-year-olds, Moroccan Ridouane Harroufi, and New Zealander Kim Smith, won the Steamboat Classic 4-miler in Peoria on Saturday. Harroufi won by a second in 18:18, and got a big break when one of his Kenyan opponents didn't know which way to turn for the finish! Smith routed the women's field in 20:00. Placing ninth with a 19:09 on the men's side was 36-year-old Moroccan-turned-American Khalid Khannouchi, staying sharp in case he is called on to run the marathon for the U.S. at Beijing. He is the alternate after placing fourth at the trials last fall. See this Peoria Journal Star online report for Steamboat details:

Blast from the Past

Ann Schaefers-Coles surfaced Saturday at the Streamwood Stride 5K, winning the women's overall title in 20:50.3. Ann, if you didn't know, was one of the top female runners in Chicago before having a family in recent years. Among other things, she ran in the U.S. women's Olympic marathon Trials twice, placing 27th in 1996 (2:41:05)and 6th in 2000 (2:38:47). Is this the start of a comeback?? Whatever's in store, good luck to Ann!

Back on the Circuit Again

This morning's CARA Circuit Pink Ribbon 5K in Palos Heights was won by Dave Wilson, 39, of Brookfield (who else?), in 16:11.6 and Meg Sullivan, 28, of Palos Heights, in 19:18.5 (photos).

The race featured some shady neighborhoods, lots of turns and a couple of hills to keep us honest. Times were not in the PR category; that's for sure. I know I was running strictly for position. No way am I recovered from last weekend's relay. Hats off to my Elmhurst Running Club teammates Doug Pearson, Mark Krause and Mark Montgomery, who swept M40-44, and Kristy Howland and Christine Lipa, who went 1-2 in F45-49. Thanks to Mel Diab and the crew at Running for Kicks for putting this one together.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lakefront Marathon Registration Closed

To no one's surprise, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on Oct. 5 is now filled to its 2,750 capacity for individuals and its limit of 90 for relay teams. If you got in, I'll see you there. Let the training begin!

North Shore Half-Marathon

I was home recovering from the MC200 Relay, but 1,332 runners braved the sticky conditions, the 9-mile hill and the 13.1-mile distance to complete the CARA Circuit North Shore Half-Marathon on Sunday in Highland Park. Men's champ was Jordan Dubow, 30, of Chicago (I believe he grew up in Highland Park), who clocked 1:16:25. Nathan Kennedy, 22, of Bolingbrook, was runner-up with a 1:18:31 and Doug Pearson, 40, of Elmhurst, a fellow Elmhurst Running Club competitor, was third in 1:22:26. Pam Blair, 27, of Chicago, was the women's champion in 1:30:28. She was followed by Michelle Plummer, 31, of Gilberts, in 1:32:01 and Toney Avakova, 27, of Chicago, in 1:32:34. Race medical director, Dr. Terry Nicola, reported there were no major medical problems. That's good to hear.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fossil Velocity Images 2008

The Fossils load up the supplies and get it on at the MC200 June 6-7. That's Ian Hines (left) after handing off to Nancy Rollins, and Brian Norrick (left) after handing off to Keith Burns (beard).

There will be more photos as time permits. Our total time was 25 hours, 14 minutes, 45 seconds. We finished 10th overall out of 103 teams! Many teams were having trouble with the extreme heat and humidity, including ours as we slowed our pace to make sure we got to the line at Montrose.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Roselle Race Won't Count

The Chicago Area Runners Association Board of Directors has decided the skewed Roselle Run for the Roses 5K (see post below) won't be scored for CARA Circuit purposes. It's sad, unfortunate and all the rest, but it's the right decision. Comments? See for the official announcement.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Firing Up the Fossils

Well, it's almost MC (Madison-Chicago) 200 Relay Time. I'm checking the batteries on my headlamp and blinkie lights and gettin' ready to go. Our team, Fossils Velocity, is the only Grand Masters Team in the 119-team field. That means we're all over 50, but have to get our kicks by knocking off as many "kids" teams as we can. We've done quite well the past two years, and we definitely have an edge in terms of sponsorship. For the second year, we are sponsored by the Runner's Edge stores (Wilmette, Libertyville, Chicago-Andersonville). We are going to face heat, humidity and probably rain this year. We'll all be ready. Our team includes many well-known runners with Chicago-area ties: Melissa Savage, Tim Belton, Michael Roberts, Jim Raymond, Keith Holzmueller, Charlie Shahbazian, Ian Hines, Nancy Rollins, Keith Burns, Brian Norrick, Chris Nemeth and yours truly. Our goal for what really is just over 203 miles? Run the thing in under 24 hours. We shall see! Past Fossils not running this year because of injuries or travel conflicts are Terry Nicola, Vinny Finneran and Geoff Wilson. All three will cheer us along at various points on the course! We are a team of interchangeable parts -- indestructable! Fossils all. Yeah!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Roselle: Going the Distance, And Then Some

I had just started my "move" in the Roselle 5K on Sunday as we approached a right turn about 1.4 miles into the course. Then I saw runners coming from the opposite direction, and I thought "uh-oh" as I realized quite a few runners had missed the turn, gone a block or two out of their way, turned around and were rejoining the course. While an arrow clearly marked the turn on the pavement, there was no course marshal at this key spot on the course. Apparently, the top runners (20 to 30 from what I'm told) thought a police car blocking traffic two blocks past the correct turn was where they were supposed to be headed. Ouch! Some of CARA's finest runners, who were really running well, were screwed. Some finished after running the extra distance. Some bagged it, not finishing at all or jogging in. If you look at some of the big names who did finish, in many cases, they have at least 45 seconds to a minute of extra running time. What a shame. What a mess. In my own age group, Sam Cortes said he was really running fast. He isn't in the results. The race director did apologize twice and urged affected runners to call him and "they would be taken care of." I'm not sure what that means. I wonder what will be done if anything. Runners should know the course, but in this case, the police car apparently made for some super confusion up front. For the record, Steve Bach, 21, of Bloomingdale got the win in 17:40.7, while Lindsay Flanagan, 17, of Roselle, fresh off a runner-up finish in the state 3,200 for lake Park HS, won the women's competition in 18:10.
Photo: Elmhurst RC swept the women's 45-49 as Lori Dunn (left) took third in 20:30.5, Christine Lipa (center) won in 19:44.5 and Kristy Howland (right)took second in 20:09.4. My race went well. In my final tuneup for the Madison-Chicago Relay, I ran 20:13.4. Nothing to write home about, but it was my best 5K of the year.