Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Running into the Future

I've posted earlier information on the construction of the Salt Creek Greenway through eastern DuPage County. I went out yesterday and checked out the section through Elmhurst up to Roosevelt Road.

Photos are from a new paved section north of Eldridge Park in Elmhurst and the path-to-be under Roosevelt Road, which then will head south and east to connect with existing paths all the way to Brookfield.

I see great running, walking, biking and roller-skiing possibilities on this new path. Yesterday, on my maiden voyage, I saw a blue heron and a mommy duck with her babies. This was all within a half-mile of Route 83 and Roosevelt Road.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wave Start for CDC

If you didn't get your newsletter from John Bingham Racing, the Chicago Distance Classic on Aug. 10 will try a wave start for the first time. It will be a voluntary, self-seeded affair without color-coded bibs etc. In other words, there will be four waves of approximately 2,500 runners each, but it's your responsibility to find the wave that's right for you. Race personnel will be there to help. If you're in the race, the City of Chicago's oldest road race, I would check out the Web site and make sure you aren't surprised by the new format. It's a good move on paper because it will ease congestion on a course that includes a lot of narrow bike path. Here's to John (The Penguin) Bingham for trying to make it better for the runners.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The X-Factor . . . Humidity

The X in the Xtreme 10-miler at Waterfall Glen this morning (July 26) was more the humidity than the hills in my opinion. For many of us, to stay in the game, we had to cut back the engines a bit or risk crashing. In a CARA Circuit race, you don't want that to happen. So in general, times were slower than last year, but that isn't to say there weren't fast times. Stanford-bound Chris Derrick, who just graduated from Neuqua Valley HS in Naperville, blasted to a 52:44.7 (5:16 pace) despite the approximately 90 percent humidity and temps near 80. He destroyed a quality field that included runner-up Emisael Favela, 31, of Cicero (55:49.8) and third-place finisher Jack (or Jacek if you like) Kafel, 32, of River Forest (56:55.1). Derrick, as you might know, missed his chance to re-write the books at the Illinois HS meet in May when he came down with mono. I'm glad he had a chance to win a good race like this before he goes off to school. On the women's side, Alona Banai, 24, of Oak Park, claimed the victory with an impressive 1:04:51.5. Banai had done some recreational running, but just started running seriously last year. Her sports background in high school was synchronized swimming! She received her masters in plant biology at Northwestern this past June. Second woman was Meg Sullivan, 28, of Palos Heights (1:07:20.6), and third went to Julie Wankowski, 38, of Glen Ellyn (1:08:20.5). Sam's Club was the major sponsor of this fine event directed by John Gervase. My M55-59 age group could be called Sam's Club as well. Sam Cortes ran 1:01 and change to obliterate the rest of us. Eric Burgess ran a strong second. I was next, quite a ways back, followed by Fritz Gareis. The photo shows 2-3-4 in the age group. Sam never stays for the hardware. Well, we all survived for another day. 657 of us crossed the finish line. What a tough morning for racing!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Lukas and Tera Show

The July 17 Chicago Fire Fighters Run for the Kids 5K in Grant Park was a winner for the kids for sure, but the racing landscape was really accented by the men's and women's victors, Lukas Veribicas and Tera Moody. I confess to have called Veribicas "the runner in yellow and green" during my P.A. play-by-play from the pace car at the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th. I had no idea who he was. All I know is the 15-year-old from New Lenox is on fire. He has to be mentioned as a potential high school state champion in the near future. Anyway, Lukas cleaned up with a strong 15:38. Jeff Tomas, 27, of Chicago, was runner-up in 16:18, and Neal Klein, 18, of Streamwood, was third in 16:26. Meanwhile, Moody, 27, the former St. Charles HS star, who most recently placed fifth in the U.S. women's Olympic Marathon trials in Boston, showed up and won the women's division going away with a 17:29. Marie Wolbert, 23, of Chicago, was second in 18:44, and Elizabeth Engel, 33, of Chicago was third in 20:04. Moody was listed as a Chicago resident. Has she moved back from Boulder, Colo.? This event had 1,147 finishers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

No Shortage of Talent at Kurtz 5K

Catching up continued . . .
Last year, the John Kurtz 5K race in Bensenville paid big money, but was somewhat of a joke because it really was 2.85 miles, although billed as a full 5K. This year, they kept the triple-loop format, but got the distance right. Actually, from the times posted for the July 16 evening race, the course may have been long. Who knows? At any rate, there were plenty of Fenton HS alums in the field, starting with winner Art Siemers, 35, now of Golden, Colo., who cruised the course in 15:32.6. Emisael Favela, 31, of Cicero, consistently one of the area's top runners, was second in 15:36.9, and Chris Siemers, 27, of Bensenville (Fenton alum and Art's brother), was third in 15:52.7. Elmhurst College coach Jim Akita, 27, of Elmhurst, was fourth in a nice 15:58.2. On the women's side, Denisa Costescu, 32, of Walled Lake, Mich., made the trip and took home a win in a modest 18:24.4. Karen Prisby, 23, of Wheaton, was next in 18:58.9, and Kristen West, 29, of Streamwood, was third in 19:47.3. Those times are what make me think the course might have been long. If anyone who ran reads this, put down your comments. One other note -- Jim Spivey, a Fenton grad and former Olympian, ran a 20:06. Spivey, 48, of Carol Stream, finished fifth in the men's 40-49 group. This event had about $5,000 in prize money, but had only 99 finishers. Comments???

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Women Definitely Fleet of Feet

In an effort to catch up, there were three local races of note while I was on vacation. One was the Kurtz 5K in Bensenville. Another was the Chicago Firefighters 5K for the Kids (featuring Tera Moody's 17:27), and the other was the amazing Fleet Feet Sports Women's Festival 5K and 10K in Lincoln Park on Sunday, July 20. I'll focus on that for now and catch up on the others in future posts.
In the 10K, there were four finishers under 38 minutes, and in the 5K, the top three bested 18-flat. Age-group fields were deep as women from all over the region made the pilgrimage for what has become an important race for the ladies. It was a great morning of racing. Here are the headliners:

1. Jokatade Agunloye, 28, Chicago, 37:11
2. Christina Overbeck, 22, Chicago, 37:49
3. Crystina Martinez, 21, hometown unknown, 37:54
4. Erin Moffett, 26, Chicago, 37:55
5. Karen Prisby, 23, Wheaton, 38:08

1. Jessica Langford, 37, Rockford, 17:25
2. Claudia Becque, 32, Chicago, 17:35
3. Cassie Peller, 22, Valparaiso, Ind., 17:55

According to the posted results, there were 1,379 finishers in the 10K and 1,003 in the 5K. Great job by FF to put on such a sparkling event.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What? A New Post? It Happens!

I'm still tucked away "up north," but soon will be back on the Chitown scene. Six of us volunteered yesterday at the Door County Triathlon, a spectacular event that takes in much of the county's natural beauty. We handled the water station at Mile 11 of the half-Iron division, and had a blast. My cousins Pat Overton and Bill Orner, good friends Gen and Dave Seefeldt, Nancy and I kept people hydrated for the final push to the finish. We really had fun and I really felt good to be able to give back up here where I have done various races for years all over the county. I want to congratulate good friend Mark Hauser of Chicago for his great overall victory in the sprint division. His final time was 1:08:51. I've been running a lot and eating a lot up here. I'm primed for Waterfall Glen (ha ha) on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And furthermore . . .

So the lingering 4 on the 4th question is, "How would Paul Jellema and Katie McGregor have done in age-graded scoring?".
The answers please . . . McGregor,30, would have been fifth overall, scoring 894.1 with her 21:30.7. Jellema,23, would have checked in eighth with an 866.4 rating with his 19:26.9. Not quite the rest of the story, but more than you had before!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Good Vibrations from 4 on the 4th

With apologies to Brian Wilson, the genius of Beach Boy music, there really have been good vibes this year. When you work hard, lose sleep and fly around like mad man for about 36 hours until the race is over, it's is gratifying, very gratifying.
I'm posting pictures of the men's finish and Katie McGregor as she nears the line. Thanks to Gen Wilczewski for the nice pictures. After beginning to analyze data provided by Doug Pearson of the Elmhurst Running Club, I can say we had four national-class performances, making the day even more satisfying. On age-graded scoring, Lois Gilmore, 77, Janesville, Wis., graded out at 929.6 with her 35:38.5.
On an even playing field, she would have won the race. Nancy Rollins, 61, Evanston, who will be here for dinner in about an hour, ran 27:25.2 for an age-graded score of 929.4. Lukas Verzbicas, 15, New Lenox, who was the third finisher physically but fourth behind Jack Kafel in Chip scoring, graded out at 929.1 with his blistering 19:34.2. Finally, Mr. M55-59, Sam Cortes, 57, Orland Park, ran a 22:40.1, good for an age-grade score of 900.7. Sam's first words to me were "Bob, that was a great race. . . I think I ran a national-class time." I hope he was right on the former. I know he was right on the latter. Time for a Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat. What a weekend.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Star-Spangled 4 on the 4th

I'm too tired to think, but the race exceeded our expectations. Conditions were perfect, and a strong field top to bottom made it a memorable day in Elmhurst. Paul Jellema, a former two-time Illinois high school cross-country champ (Illiana Christian High School), now living in Rochester Hills, Mich., and competing for Hansons-Brooks, took charge -- barely -- with about 3/4 of a mile to go to edge Kenyan Timon Biwott, based in Elkhart, Ind. the winning time of 19:26 set a new event record. On the women's side, Katie McGregor of St. Louis Park, Minn., took out her disapointment of not making the Olympic team in the 10,000 meters last week after a narrow loss in Eugene, Ore. She blistered the course in 21:30, easily setting a women's 4 on the 4th record. We had 801 finishers and NO medical emergencies. People were smiling, and I liked that a lot. Check out www.4on4th.com for links to all results and some pictures.
I'm fried. It was a great day. More later.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Woo-hoo! We're Ready!

I think we're ready for anything tomorrow. Everything is set from food to mile markers. To top off the day, I received a call from a Kenyan runner based in Indiana today. He's coming to do our race! There goes the event record! Can ya say Kenya, right here in Elmhurst. Awesome! The field will be close to 1,000. That's it for now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

4 on the 4th . . . All Systems Go

Sorry I've been non-blogging lately. I've been neck-deep in race prep for Friday's Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th. The weather certainly is cooperating. My biggest fear has been the safety issue, and I think we're catching a big break with temps expected to be in the 60s. The crowding issue at packet pickup will be unavoidable, but that's part of racing. If you're running, consider a Thursday packet pickup (3-7 p.m. at Elmhurst College). All runners must pick up Chips (PHOTO shows exact ankle-style Chips we will use) on race morning. The men's and women's fields are starting to look very strong. We just got an entry from Paul Jellema of the Hansons-Brooks team in Rochester Hills, Mich. Katie McGregor, a nine-time All-American from the University of Michigan and fourth-place finisher in last Friday's Olympic Trials 10,000 in Eugene, Ore., has just confirmed!! For me as co-director with Susan May, it's trying to make sure no stone is left unturned. We have a great committee, and I think we've got it right this year.