Thursday, July 30, 2009

From Shorter to Goucher -- A Rockin' Classic

With Kara Goucher in town to run the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon on the lakefront Sunday morning, we have a real "made-in-America" superstar running what was called the Chicago Distance Classic until this year. My first thought after hearing that Goucher was coming was that back in 1977, we had an even bigger name here for the first Classic. Frank Shorter had won gold in the Olympic marathon at Berlin in 1972 and silver at Montreal in 1976 (probably should have been gold again because of drug use by the winner from East Germany, but that's another story). Much of the running movement resulted because of Shorter, the American hero who was running and winning Chicago's race that year, when the event debuted as a 20K. It will be fun to see how Goucher does. Off the track, she has chosen to try for great performances on the hilly marathon courses in New York and Boston. She has done extremely well, and now we get to see what she can do on a flat course in Chicago as she fine-tunes for the World Championship (IAAF) marathon on Aug. 23 in Berlin, which is also flat. It also will be interesting to see how many men can beat her on Sunday!
For those of you in the city, Kara will be at Fleet Feet Sports-Pipers Alley, at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

The press release about Goucher running here on Sunday follows.

Race will be broadcast live on

Chicago, Ill - Fresh off her second U.S. 5,000m track title, Kara Goucher will return to the roads to make her U.S. half-marathon debut at the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, August 2. The race webcast can be seen live on beginning at 6:30 a.m. CT.

Less than a year ago, Goucher amazed U.S. road racing fans with an inspiring third place debut at the 2008 ING New York City Marathon, the first time in 14 years that an American woman had placed in the top three. Her second marathon in Boston earlier this year saw her place third in a tight finish on the home stretch. Her performance was the best finish by a U.S. woman at the Boston Marathon since 1993.

"I'm excited to be part of the first Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon. I'm grateful for the opportunity to race as part of my preparations for the World Championships here on home soil, in one of the true great sporting cities." said Goucher, who will use the race in preparation to run the marathon at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships August 23 in Berlin. "I'm very happy about the way my preparations have gone. I ran the trials in June and now it's time to get back on the roads. I'm hoping to run well in Chicago and take that confidence into Berlin and give a good account of myself on the world stage."

Goucher's marathon prospects at the World Championships are rooted in previous wins this year over 3,000m at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games and 5,000m at the USA Track & Field Championships. The 5,000m victory in 15 minutes, 20.94 seconds was her second U.S. track title, the other being the 2008 Olympic Trials which preceded her ninth place 5,000m finish at the Beijing Olympics last summer.

Unbeaten in her career at the half-marathon distance, Goucher captured her first title in 2007 in spectacular fashion when she out-dueled marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, winning the Great North Run in 1:06:57, the fastest woman's half-marathon time of the year. The sub 1:07 performance set a new American best time for the distance.

"It's great to have Kara competing at the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Chicago," said Matt Turnbull, Athlete Coordinator for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, who was on hand for the 2007 Great North Run, Goucher's first competitive race longer than 10k. "She is the best female distance runner in America right now and the race fits perfectly into her schedule for this summer's World Championships. There is no better ambassador for the sport of running in the United States so it's great to have her in Chicago."

Goucher owns a marathon PR of 2:25:53, which was the fastest marathon debut ever by an American woman. She holds two of the seven fastest U.S. women's marathon times in history, and has won both half-marathons she has finished, including the 2009 Lisbon Half Marathon in 1:08:30.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Escareno, Moffett Win X-Treme 10-Miler

Many of the best runners in Chicagoland converged on the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve near Darien on Saturday, July 25, for the annual X-Treme 10-Miler on the chopped limestone loop through the woods. The CARA Runners' Choice Series and Best of Chicagoland race was won in 52:17.3 by Christian Escareno, 21, of Mt. Prospect, who runs for the Fast Track Racing Club. He was followed closely by Emisael Favela, 32, of Cicero, in 52:26.8 and Jon Gries, 22, of King of Prusia, Pa., in 53:34.8. Male masters winner was Rob Chenoweth, 40, of Chicago in a nice 57:37.0. On the women's side, Erin Moffett, 27, of Chicago, continued to to have a banner year with a first-place posting of 1:01:42.5. Elizabeth Boyle, 21, of Elmhurst, edged Suet Fei Li, 33, of Schaumburg, for second, 1:03:01.5 to 1:03:02.6. Ann Schaefers-Coles, 44, of Cary, was the women's masters winner in 1:05:40.5. Nice job by all in every age group. There were 739 finishers in this tough but exhilarating race.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wanjiru to Run Chicago Marathon!

Many of you have seen this, but I'm posting it here for those who haven't read it yet. This is great news for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11.

2008 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Sammy Wanjiru Selects
2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon for U.S. Debut
Former Chicago Marathon Champions Evans Cheruiyot, Patrick Ivuti and Lidiya Grigoryeva
to Contend for Repeat Championships

CHICAGO, IL (July 21, 2009)  2008 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Sammy Wanjiru (KEN) today announced he will make his first U.S. appearance at the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in an attempt to better his current personal marathon record (2:05:10). With two sub-2:06 marathons to his credit and the benefits of Chicago’s sleek course, the 22-year-old Kenyan’s goals are within reach.

“My plan for the fall is to lower my personal record and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course offers the best opportunity for me to achieve that this year,” said Wanjiru from Kenya. “My only focus between now and October is to prepare and train aggressively for my best performance yet.”

Wanjiru has quickly made a name for himself in the world of distance running, first capturing the half marathon world record in 2005, lowering it in 2007 and winning three of the four marathons in which he has competed. His Olympic gold medal performance last summer in Beijing was the first ever for a Kenyan athlete in the marathon and marked his first World Marathon Majors (WMM) victory. This spring, he captured a second consecutive WMM win with his fastest time yet at the 2009 London Marathon (2:05:10).

“Sammy is certainly the athlete to watch in this sport right now and we are honored to be able to host him at such a pivotal point in his career,” said Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. “We have had the pleasure of witnessing four previous world records in Chicago and if conditions are right, the enthusiastic sports fans in this city could have the opportunity to see that again.”

Challenging Wanjiru for the title will be 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) and 2007 champion Patrick Ivuti (KEN). Cheruiyot, 27, has competed in only three marathons including his WMM debut in Chicago last fall. He broke the tape in a personal best 2:06:25, an impressive feat considering the unseasonably warm weather.

Ivuti, 31, will make his third Chicago appearance this fall, returning to the site where he posted the closest margin of victory in Chicago Marathon history in 2007. Amid record heat and humidity, Ivuti thrilled fans with a shoulder-to-shoulder sprint against two-time World Champion Jaouad Gharib (MAR), crossing the finish line only half a second ahead of Gharib (2:11:11). In 2005, he made his marathon debut in Chicago where he posted his current personal best (2:07:46) in a fifth-place finish.

Reigning women’s Chicago Marathon champion Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) will defend the title she earned in Chicago last October with a finish time of 2:27:17. Grigoryeva, 35, is the 2007 Boston Marathon champion and owns a personal best of 2:25:10 set in Los Angeles in 2006. Her primary contender is 2005 Chicago Marathon champion Deena Kastor (USA) who has already set her sights on lowering the American marathon record she currently owns (2:19:36).
“Today’s announcement significantly advances the depth of our elite athlete field for the October 11 race and continues the tradition of world class marathon competition in Chicago,” said Pinkowski.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the most competitive marathons in the world. In its storied history it has hosted some of the great names in the sport including Steve Jones, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Khalid Khannouchi, Catherine Ndereba, Deena Kastor and Paula Radcliffe. Currently, the 2009 start line will feature four former Chicago Marathon champions, eight World Marathon Major victories and two Olympic medalists.

In its 32nd year and a member of the World Marathon Majors, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon annually attracts 45,000 runners including a world class elite field and 1.5 million spectators. As a result of its national and international draw, the iconic race assists in raising $10 million for a variety of charitable causes while generating an estimated $140 million economic impact to its host city.

The 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will start and finish in Chicago’s Grant Park beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11. In advance of the race, a two-day Health & Fitness Expo will be held at McCormick Place on Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10. More information on the race and how to get involved is available at the event Web site,

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scott Smashes 4 on the 4th Record!

Derek Scott, a member of the Brooks Team Indiana Elite, called early in the week and said he was coming to the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th, and added that he was quite confident he could break the course record of 19:26.9 set last year by Paul Jellema of the Hansons-Brooks team in Michigan. When I Googled and saw that Scott had run a 3:57.9 mile in May down in St. Louis, I knew the guy had what it takes. Well, it all came true. Scott took the lead from the start, although SIU runner Kyle Kirchner of Frankfort, IL, stayed a step behind him until about 1.5 miles. Then it was no contest. Scott pulled away on an uphill and breezed to a 19:07, beating runner-up Kirchner, who made a game effort, by almost a minute as Kirchner crossed the line in 20:05. "I was very pleased with how the race went," Scott said. "It was my first time at the event and it was set up great. The registration was smooth, good post-race snacks and Gatorades, high energy announcers, etc. Starting the race, I knew I was going after the course record, so I was a little surprised to have some company for close to a mile and a half. It helped keep the pace honest. The best part was looping around halfway and being able to see all the other runners on the other side of the road. I was getting a lot of cheers and even some people hollering at me saying, 'is that all you got?' It was funny, people were having a good time. I knew I was well under pace so I was able to relax the third mile and run comfortably to the finish. I'm glad I came out. Third place in a very competitive "second pack" went to Christian Escareno, 21, of Mount Prospect, who runs for the Fast Track Racing Team and is the current overall CARA points leader. He ran a 20:08, closing on Kirchner and holding off No. 4 Alex Sutphen, 21, of Napervile, who ran 20:11. Fifth was Charlie Kern, 40, of Elmhurst, who ran a 20:25 as a hard training run for the world masters meet later this month in Lahti, Finland. Dani Prince, also of Team Indiana Elite, the 2008 women's Columbus marathon winner in 2:48, and Derek's girl friend, won the women's competition in 22:45. "This was my first time doing the 4 on the 4th and I really enjoyed the race," said Dani, who changed into a party dress before the awards ceremony! "It was great to hear all the support from the other runners and walkers when you hit the turnaround. You could tell everyone was enjoying the race and the 4th. My training has been minimal lately since I am getting ready to gear up for a fall marathon (Twin Cities), but I was happy with the results considering how little I've been doing. The race was a fun way to mix up the week of training." Runner-up woman was Hong Kong transplant Suet-Fei Li, 33, now of Schaumburg, who came in at 23:18. Third-place woman was Christine Overbeck, 23, of Chicago, who posted a very nice 23:35. Overbeck runs for Fleet Feet and is the CARA women's overall leader. She was followed in fourth and fifth by Emma Keenan, 21, of Niles in 23:38 and Kareen Ripperda, 39, of Elmhurst in 24:11. We had 832 finishers and a lot of very strong runners duking it out on the streets of Elmhurst. Some of the most honorable people I've run into in quite a while deserve to be mentioned. We had a results problem for a while in which Sutphen was listed ahead of Escareneo. Everyone was very professional, and we got it fixed. Also, Kirchner, Escareno and Sutphen also must be commended for saying upfront they could not accept prize money or gifts because they are collegiate runners. Class acts? Yes! Photo 1 from Ray Hecker shows Derek Scott near the 2-mile mark after he broke Kyle Kirchner. Photo 2 shows women's runner-up Suet-Fei Li pacing with Dave Schaefers (center) and one of his Fast Track Racing Club teammates, Wes Benson. Photo 3 shows gallant Kyle Kirchner who made it interesting for a while for Derek Scott. Photo 4 shows third-place finisher Christian Escareno ahead of a group of very good racers.