Friday, October 31, 2008

They're No. 1!

The newest Running Times magazine Masters rankings show Nancy Rollins of Evanston No. 1 in F60-64 and Lois Gilmore of Janesville, Wis., No. 1 in F75-79. They run often on the CARA Circuit as well as in other races locally and regionally. This is quite an accomplishment. Congratulations to both!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

50/50 Runners Set to Go the Distance

The annual Chicago Lakefront 50/50 is a go for Saturday morning on the south lakefront. The 50-milers start at 6:30 a.m., the 50Kers at 8:30 a.m. Both races are three-loop affairs, starting and finishing at the 63rd St. Beachhouse. There is a 2 p.m. cutoff for runner to begin their third laps. NOTE: Race director Pat Onines could use some more volunteers. You can e-mail him directly at
Good luck to all competitors. The 50-mile division is closed, but apparently, there are spots open in the 50K. This is one of the flattest ultramarathons in the United States and people record some good times when conditions are right. Conditions look excellent for Saturday. Check out

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sycamore: A Double-Edged Sword

This 10K was a tale of two conditions. For 3.6 miles on Sunday, 1,175 of us were on a flat, somewhat wind-aided race course (at least going east) as we challenged ourselves at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival 10K. Then came the turn north for the rest of somewhat uphill Miles 4 and 5, twisty Mile 6 and the slightly uphill home stretch. Did I mention the in-your-face headwinds over those last 2.8 miles? The conditions affected some people but not all. My race went well for 4 miles as I met my goal of 6:55 pace. Then, things went in the toilet, and I hung on for a P-worst 43:50.
But let's salute the top threes. On the men's side, Chris Setzler, 36, of Wonder Lake, won in 33:58.72, while Nathan Kennedy, 22, of Bolingbrook, was runner-up in 34:17.56. Next was Verdo Gregory, 29, of Chicago, or should it be Gregory Verdo? He finished third in 34:29.48. In the women's ranks, Olivia Aranda, 29, of Rockford, took the "gold" in 37:47.98, with Pal Blair, 27, of Chicago, placing second in 39:03.94, and Katy Hillard, 26, of Sycamore, ran third in 40:17.65. Kudos to my Elmhurst Running Club teammates Doug Pearson (35:27.09) and Christine Lipa (40:56.7), who each placed fifth overall. Pearson, 40, of Elmhurst won M40-44 and Lipa, 48, of Glen Ellyn, won F45-49.
This second-to-last CARA Circuit race of the year was a good mix of runners from Chicago as well as farther west to Rockford and beyond. It also featured people who had run recent marathons and people who had not. As always, the race organization was very good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

York Starts Fast

Joe Newton's York Dukes wasted no time blowing away the field on Saturday at the Lake Park Class 3-A boys Regional in Roselle. York went 1-2-3-4-9-10-11 with Steve Sulkin, Jorden Hebert, Jack Driggs and Adam Ceal leading the sweep. Fenwick showed the way in equal fashion at Oak Park with its own 1-4 finish of Martin Grady, Tom Laser, Jack Boyle and William Toohey. At Aurora West, Geneva went 2-3-4-5-7; at Loyola, the host Ramblers went 1-3-4 and at Naperville North, the Huskies and Neuqua Valley went 1-2 in a tough field. And how about this on the girls side? York went 2-3-4-5-6 at Roselle, but its top runner, Meghan Frigo, lost by 1 minute, 12 seconds to Lake Park's Lindsay Flanagan. There were plenty of other top performancs, but there is a long way to go with sectionals next week and the state meet in Peoria on Nov. 8.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Verzbicas Out of State XC Mix -- Most Likely

Lincoln-Way Central cross-country sensation Lukas Verzbicas has a sciatica problem, and it appears he's out for the rest of the season. What a shame. The kid had a shot at winning it all. I've been a fan of his since he showed up unannounced and unknown to me to run the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th, which I co-direct.
Here is the story, direct from Illinois' page on

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NIKE Does Right Thing in SF

If you've been following the mess from the NIKE Women's Marathon in San Francisco, the following statement was released today, declaring the woman with the fastest time the winner. She was 11 minutes faster than the woman who initially was declared the winner because she ran from the elite wave. The situation was amazingly similar to the Wesley Korir saga in Chicago.
Nike is announcing today that it recognizes Arien O'Connell as a winner in last weekend's Nike Women's Marathon with the fastest chip time, completing the full race in 2:55:11. She shattered her previous time and achieved an amazing accomplishment.
Arien will receive the same recognition and prize, including a Tiffany bowl, the full marathon elite group winner received. Arien was unfortunately not immediately recognized as a race winner because she did not start the race with the elite running group, which is required by USATF standards. Because of their earlier start time, the runners in the elite group had no knowledge of the outstanding race Arien was running and could not adjust their strategies accordingly.
Learning from the unique experience in this year's race, Nike has decided today to eliminate the elite running group from future Nike Women's Marathons. Next year, all runners will run in the same group and all will be eligible to win.
Nike has a proven track record of supporting athletes and we're proud to be able to honor Arien and other athletes who surpass their goals and achieve great accomplishments.

Oak Brook Half in Reverse?

I was speaking with Tom Hepperle, director of the Labor Day Oak Brook Half-Marathon, which debuted this year, and he told me one idea he's floating is to reverse the direction of the course to alleviate crowding near 31st St. and Midwest Rd. Comments are invited.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Wisconsin! 26.2 Kenosha Style

This goes under the heading of old news, but if you don't view Chicago Athlete's site regularly, you might have missed it. A new 26.2-miler, The Wisconsin Marathon, will debut in Kenosha, Wis., on May 2, 2009. It will be based in downtown Kenosha, just three blocks from the Metra station. This one has a lot of potential and is close to home for most of us. I first heard this was in the works back in April, and am so glad it is coming to fruition. Folks, we've got a spring marathon. Check out:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Korir Getting Bonus Thanks to Carey P.

Credit is given where credit is due. Executive race director Carey Pinkowski of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is doing the right thing and has arranged for an undisclosed prize bonus for Wesley Korir. The bonus is unrelated to the normal prize money structure for elite athletes and has no effect on it. Korir, a Kenyan native and former track and cross country runner at Murray State and the University of Louisville, ran a 2:13:53, which was the fourth-fastest time at the Oct. 12 marathon. However, Korir was not in the invited elite field and started at 8 a.m. instead of 7:55. Under USATF rules, he was not eligible for prize money ($15,000 for fourth place). A marathon spokesperson said the bonus is "simply a recognition of an outstanding performance by a runner not in our elite field." The spokesperson also race officials are working to bring Korir back for the 2009 race. He registered for the race on his own this year. I think this is a class act all the way around.

Friday, October 17, 2008

R.I.P. CDC; Time for Some Rock 'N Roll

As you probably saw on Chicago Athlete's Web site, John Bingham has sold the Chicago Distance Classic half-marathon, and it now will be the Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half-Marathon on Aug. 9, 2009, part of a national series. So we've seen the city's oldest race get stagnant as a 20K, revived as an ever-changing half-marathon, and now it passes to a national management company that promises more music, etc. etc. How about an accurate course?
Here is the release, courtesy of Chicago Athlete:

A Lakefront 10 Win-Win

CARA's purchase of the Lakefront 10-miler from Universal Sole, announced this week, is a win-win for both organizations, and ultimately, for Chicagoland runners. Ever since CARA sold the Shamrock Shuffle, I have felt it was a mistake for it to be out of the race production business. This will provide some revenue-generating capacity to CARA while providing Universal Sole with some badly needed capital. The Lakefront 10, one of the very good races on the local calendar each April, has been held most years in direct competition with the very good Ravenswood 5K, a staple on the CARA Competitive Circuit. I hope that conflict goes away. I know I've always wanted to run the LF10, but always had a Circuit obligation to Ravenswood. It's good to see CARA make this move. I'm sure more details will emerge in coming days and weeks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Korir: STILL Not Much New

All I can tell you is that I've attempted to reach Wesley Korir through his coach at the University of Louisville. These things take time. One side note is that a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal told me Korir has applied for political asylum. That can be a sticky one. To clarify, the decision not to award the prize money was a decision by the race referee, Jim Estes of USATF. Carey Pinkowski and his staff have to adhere to those rules, but the idea of an "accommodation" certainly has merit. I'll let you know when I learn more.You might have seen the link below on, but this is a very good summary of the situation. It was written by Jim Ferstle for the IAAF. Interstingly, in our Elmhurst 4 on the 4th race in July, we had the Chip dilemma Ferstle describes. Our third-place runner finished fourth because of the Chip, even though he held off the fourth-place runner physically. Check out:

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Wesley Korir Saga

The controversy for 2008 at the Bank of America Marathon is the Wesley Korir situation. Korir (photo), 26, a native of Kenya who has run track and cross-country, first at Murray State University and most recently at the University of Louisville, placed fourth on Sunday in 2:13:53, beating some of the best marathon runners in the world. The problem is he was not in the elite group that started at 7:55 a.m. He was in the 8 a.m. mass start. USATF rules stipulate that everyone competing for places and prize money ($15,000 in this case) must have the same gun start. The thinking is that Korir wasn't racing against the competition, but rather against the clock and had an unfair advantage. I don't know about that. The issue has raised a stir. Korir, as I am beginning to learn, has had quite a life, escaping violence back home etc. I am attempting to reach him. If I do you'll be the first to know. I feel for the guy, but I also understand that the marathon is bound by the USATF's rules. As of Monday at 6 p.m., a marathon spokesman said nothing had changed. Who said running was dull??

What a Weekend

I didn't run a step yesterday but am exhausted from a long day of race support before the event and media coverage for the Sun-Times during and after with a 6 p.m. deadline. I hope you've stopped laughing at my predictions. They were out the window before 10 miles! 2:06:25 for Evans Cheruiyot is a great time considering the conditions. He had the speed credentials from three sub-60 half-marathons. He just had to show he could sustain it, and he did. He sure got himself on the marathon map yesterday. Lidiya Grigoryeva certainly impressed as well, pushing and grimacing through the heat for a nice 2:27:17. Thanks to those of you who clicked on ads. It appears I have made 29 cents!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Da Chicago Picks for 2008

The men's and women's elite fields for Sunday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon are evenly matched with no clear-cut favorites. It will be on the warm side, but not as hot as last year. I think most of the upper tier will not be affected much by the elements this time.
So here goes . . . the predictions please:
1. William Kipsang, Kenya
2. Daniel Njenga (not again!), Kenya
3. Richard Limo, Kenya
4. Emmanuel Mutai, Kenya
5. Arata Fujiwara, Japan

1. Berhane Adere, Ethiopia
2. Bezunesh Bekele, Ethiopia
3. Constantina Tomescu-Dita, Romania
4. Kiyoko Shimahara, Japan
5. Lidiya Grigoryeva, Russia

This is as wide-open as it's been in years. It will be fun to watch. Many others could make the podium. The last few miles will be dramatic to say the least.

Constantina Will Let Others Do the Work

Here is my general advance on the men's and women's races for Sunday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which appeared in Friday's Chicago Sun-Times. I'll try to post some predictions later today.,CST-SPT-mara1o.article

Kipsang Not Shy About Wanting to Win

This little story I wrote about William Kipsang appeared in Saturday's Sun-Times. When you get the Kenyans speaking in their own language, they speak in more than English sentence fragments. Here is the link:,CST-SPT-mara11.article

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Marathon Factoids III: Deena Weighs In

2005 Chicago winner and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, working on Sunday as an analyst for Channel 5, see the women's race as follows:
"Berhane Adere has surprised Adriana (Pirtea) and Constantina (Tomescu-Dita) in separate years. I'd never count her out in a race. I think Constntina probably has recovered well (from Beijing). She'll be riding on the bliss of her Olympic medal. I think this field is so even. So many of the girls have recorded their PRs in the last year or two."

Marathon Factoids II -- Up Close With Constantina

Here are a few quotes from Thursday.
Constantina Tomescu-Dita on her motivation for running Chicago: "I'm very happy to come back here this year. This will be my fifth time. I enjoy Chicago and have been training here more than in previous years. The people are great here."
Tomescu-Dita on entering the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing at the end of her gold-medal performance in the women's Olympic marathon: "It was amazing. I knew the gold medal was mine. 800 meters from the finish, I could see the second group (was far enough behind). It was an honor for me. I was surprised to see so many people, about 93,000, at 8 or 9 in the morning.
Tomescu-Dita on her unopposed breakaway at the halfway point of the Olympic marathon: "When I pulled away (after a conservative first half), I don't know what they (the chasers) were thinking."
Tomescu-Dita on the possible effect of the heat on Sunday: "In Beijing, it was 74 degrees at the start.
Tomescu-Dita on how she feels: "It hasn't been the training, it's been the travel (that has been difficult -- trips to Romania, Boulder, Colo., Japan and elsewhere). Bit the legs are OK. I get two hours of massage every day."
Tomescu-Dita on Carey Pinkowski: "He is a great person. He is a little thinner. he must be training more!"

Marathon Factoids I

I've got plenty of outtakes from my freelance coverage with the Sun-Times for tomorrow. I'll start with these nuggets.
Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania is 38 and became the oldest woman ever to win marathon gold at the Olympics on Aug. 17 in Beijing. She is trying for her second Chicago victory on Sunday.
William Kipsang of Kenya (my men's favorite) has the sixth-fastest 2008 marathon finish time with his 2:05:49 in April at Rotterdam.
Daniel Njenga of Kenya, by way of Japan, is one of 13 males who have had six top-three finishes in World Marathon Majors events (Chicago, New York, Boston, London, Berlin, Olympics, World Championships). He never has won with three seconds and three thirds in Chicago. Ouch!
Berhane Adere of Ethiopia is one of seven women to have won Chicago twice. The others are Catherine Ndereba, Joyce Chepchumba, Marian Sutton, Ritva Lemettinen, Lisa Weidenbach and Rosa Mota.
More to come!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Next Up: Chicago

I'm just back from a couple of days roller skiing, cycling and relaxing in Wisconsin after running the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on Sunday. I'll be posting some stuff on the Bank of America Chicago Marathon starting tomorrow night. The weather forecast isn't great, but you already knew that. The organizers are more than ready, no matter what the conditions are. Are you?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alexander Wins Milw. Lakefront Marathon

Brent Alexander, 27, of Wilmette, broke away just past the halfway point on Sunday, and won the 28th Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in 2:28:24. Alexander, who runs for Fleet Feet Racing, easily beat runner-up Mark Manz of Kiel, Wis., who ran 2:32:31. Alexander went through 13.1 in 1:13.17, and even while pulling away, he slowed a bit on the second half of the course, provng he is a mere moral like the rest of us!
"I put in a huge surge at 13 miles," Alexander told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I kind of wanted to run alone because most of my training has been alone. I was kind of happy to just get away (from the pack) and run my own race for the last half." Corina Canitz, 41, of Brookfield, Wis. was the women's winner in 3:00:48, and Jenny Ellis, 23, of Port Barrington, Ill., was right behind in 3:01:09. A special shout goes out to my age-group hero and good friend, Chris Nemeth, 59, of Evanston, who ran a superb 3:14:34 for third place in the AG. Way to go to Michael Wargo of the Elmhurst Running Club for his 3:07 as well. As for me, I am very pleased. I ran a carefully paced 3:51:05 to get my goal of qualifing for Boston. Highlights of the race included the polka music near the beginning, the nice views along the way if you took time to look at them, the great volunteers, seeing Pat Onines at least five times and the generally good running weather.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Adere, Njenga In Chicago Field

Berhane Adere, the two-time defending champ, and Daniel Njenga, the hard-luck kid (three seconds, three thirds) are in the fold now for the Oct. 12 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Here is the press release.

Berhane Adere and Daniel Njenga Return to Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Complete Start List Announced for Oct. 12 Race

CHICAGO (October 2, 2008) - Bank of America today announced two-time women's champion Berhane Adere (ETH) will attempt a first-ever three-peat at the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, while six-time top-three Chicago finisher Daniel Njenga (KEN) looks for his first win in the Windy City. The additions of Adere and Njenga complete the elite field for the Oct. 12 race.
Adere has thrilled Chicago fans the last two years winning back-to-back championships in the final stretches, most recently sprinting past an unaware Adriana Pirtea (ROU) in the final meters of the 2007 race. In 2006, Adere and Galina Bogomolova (RUS) trailed Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROU) who led the field at record pace through the first 16 miles of the 26.2-mile course. Catching the Romanian in the 22nd mile, Adere and Bogomolova battled shoulder to shoulder until the Ethiopian edged into the lead and broke the tape only five seconds in front of runner-up Bogomolova.
Adding drama to the mix, Adere will face off against both Pirtea and Tomescu-Dita in the 31st running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Tomescu-Dita arrives hot off an Olympic gold medal win in the women's marathon in Beijing while her fellow Romanian Pirtea shaved five minutes off her marathon debut in Chicago last fall with a 2:28:52 in London in April.
Njenga is Chicago's very own heartbreak kid, finishing second or third in each of his previous six consecutive Chicago appearances, including a third-place showing behind the photo finish of Patrick Ivuti (KEN) and Jaouad Gharib (MAR). Never losing to the same competitor twice, Njenga has placed behind Chicago champoins Ivuti, Robert K. Cheruyiot, Felix Limo, Evans Rutto and Khalid Khannouchi, virtually a who's who of the world's best marathon runners. Njenga is one of six men in the field who have posted personal bests below 2:07:00.
Today's announcement completes the field for the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. A complete start list follows.
2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Elite Field

Name Citizenship Personal Record
Berhane Adere ETH 2:20:42
Bezunesh Bekele ETH 2:23:09
Alevtina Biktimirova RUS 2:25:12
Desiree Davila USA 2:37:50
Colleen De Reuck USA 2:26:35
Zoila Gomez USA 2:33:53
Lidiya Grigoryeva RUS 2:25:10
Kate O'Neill USA 2:36:15
Adriana Pirtea ROM 2:28:52
Kiyoko Shimahara JPN 2:26:14
Worknesh Tola ETH 2:25:37
Constantina Tomescu-Dita ROM 2:21:30

Moses Arusei KEN 2:06:50
Christopher Cheboiboch KEN 2:08:17
Timothy Cherigat KEN 2:09:34
Evans Cheruiyot KEN 2:09:16
Joseph Chirlee KEN 2:12:10
Arata Fujiwara JPN 2:08:40
James Getanda KEN 2:11:50
Salim Kipsang KEN 2:07:29
William Kipsang KEN 2:05:49
Richard Limo KEN 2:06:45
David Mandago KEN 2:07:23
Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:06:15
Daniel Njenga KEN 2:06:16
Michael Reneau USA 2:17:46
Todd Snyder USA 2:21:00

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Radcliffe Picks NY; We Still Love Her

British great Paula Radcliffe is running New York on Nov. 2. Radcliffe, who set the first of her two world records in the marathon (and an appearance on Oprah's show) at Chicago, runs to win, not set records, these days. It would be fun to see her try Chicago again sometime. We wish her the best of luck in the Big Apple. Here is part of today's press release from the New York Road Runners Club.
New York, October 1, 2008—World record-holder Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain will return to the streets of New York to defend her title at the ING New York City Marathon 2008 on Sunday, November 2, it was announced today by New York Road Runners president and CEO and race director Mary Wittenberg .
A year ago Radcliffe, 34, amazed the world with an inspiring victory in New York just 10 months after the birth of her first child, daughter Isla, on January 17, 2007. She pulled away from Ethiopia ’s Gete Wami in the final mile to capture the title in 2:23:09.
Unbeaten in New York , Radcliffe captured her first crown in 2004 in dramatic fashion when she out-dueled Kenyan Susan Chepkemei by three seconds in the closest women’s finish in race history.
A third win would lift Radcliffe into second place for the most New York victories, behind the legendary Grete Waitz of Norway , who amassed an astounding nine New York City Marathon wins.