Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Torres Running New York Marathon

With the 2016 Olympic bid announcement affecting Chicago due in two days and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 11 days away, the New York Road Runners have been busy pumping out publicity for the ING New York Marathon on Nov. 1. One thing caught my eye yesterday. Jorge Torres, who was a four-time state champion at Wheeling High School before going on to the University of Coloardo with his twin brother Edwardo, is making his marathon debut in New York. I wish it would be in Chicago, but that's the way things are playing out. Torres, 29, of Boulder, CO, will be taking the plunge after much success at the 5000-meter and 10,000-meter distances. In 2008, he finished third in the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials to secure his first Olympic appearance (Beijing), and finished second at the USA Cross Country Championships. Torres placed fourth at the USA Cross Country Championships this year. Edwardo ran Chicago in 2006, but had trouble in the latter stages of the race, finishing 61st in 2:22.07. It will be interesting to see how Jorge does.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moody Tunes Up at Park Ridge Charity Classic

U.S. marathoner Tera Moody, a native of St. Charles and a prep star in Illinois in her earlier days, warmed up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Saturday, winning the women's division of the Park Ridge Charity Classic in 16:14.59. Moody, 28, of Colorado Springs, CO, finished fifth overall in the very tough CARA Runners' Choice Series field of runners. A distant second, but with a very good time, was Jean Marinangeli, 25, of Arlington Heights, who ran a 17:32:20. Third went to Columba Montes, 30, of Chicago, in 17:34.45. On the men's side, Dave Wilson, 40, of Brookfield, last year's CARA male runner of the year, won in 15:49.59 on the fast out-and back course. Runner-up was Nathan Kennedy, 23, of Bolingbrook, in 15:57.51, and third went to Elliot Havel, 18, of Evanston, who clocked a 16:07.73. There were some amazingly fast times in what were very good conditions. Many of the age groups featured top names with excellent times. Go to to see the results.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nike High School Meet Set for Marathon Day

Nike announced on Friday that for the first time ever, a high school invitational meet will take place during the Oct. 11 Chicago Marathon on the race-day course. While the marathon's 35,000-plus actual (45,00 registered) runners race through the streets of Chicago, approximately 300 high school athletes from local schools will compete in their own event: the Nike Northside/Southside Challenge at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
The event marks the first time a World Marathon Major will feature high school athletes competing in an invitational meet, on the race-day course, while the marathon is in progress. Many of you remember that Boston had invitational miles for local preps this year, but that was the day before the marathon.
The Nike Northside/Southside Challenge will take place on the final 2.62 miles of the Chicago course starting at 31st and Michigan and will end at the marathon finish line on Columbus. It has been approved by the Illinois High School Association according to Nike officials.
Co-hosted by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Nike and Whitney Young High School, the Challenge will take place on the final 2.62 miles of the course after the marathon officially begins. The boys’ competition will start at 7:40 a.m., followed by the girls’ at 7:45 a.m.
"Nike is inspiring the next generation of runners by giving them the experience of racing in the footsteps of their running heroes," said Reg Hamlett, general manager of Nike's central territory. "The Northside/Southside Challenge is a ground-breaking way to bring a new energy to a preeminent marathon."
“In hosting the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, an event that draws 45,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators to the city streets, we have a unique opportunity to impact the Chicago community in large ways,” said Tim Maloney, Illinois State and Chicago Market President for Bank of America. “The addition of this high school event furthers that impact by providing a first-ever opportunity for local high school athletes to compete on a grand stage.”
High school teams from the Chicagoland area will be invited to compete in the Northside/Southside Challenge by Whitney Young coach Robert Geiger. Each team will be designated as either “Northside” or “Southside,” based on their geographic location, and will be grouped together to be coached by Nike elite athletes pre-race, to receive last-minute pointers and motivational advice.
Individual and team winners will be named for both boys and girls. In addition, based on the cumulative times of their runners, either “Northside” or “Southside” will be designated as the winner of the 2009 Challenge.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back in Town With a Few Questions

Sorry I've been quiet lately. I was out of town and unable to post anything. In the meantime, while I was away, I wondered what is most important to you?
a. Just running or mixing in some racing?
b. Long slow distance, LSD with some speedwork, good old jogging?
c. If you like racing, what do you like best: CARA/USATF certified courses, T-shirts, social camaraderie, food or what?
d. If you love plain old running, what do you like best, running with others, running alone, running on soft-surface trails, running on roads?
e. Have you ever thought of what it would be like if you couldn't run?
f. How do you rate the Chicago area when compared to other major metropolitan areas when it comes to all spects of running?
f. What else comes to mind when you think of running?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gebrselassie vs. Kibet Sunday in Berlin

This is worth watching on Universal Sports Sunday morning. Chicago wants to be the fastest World Marathon Majors race and might be, but when you have Haile Gebrselassie, the Ethiopian great who has the world record of 2:03:59, running against Duncan Kibet, the Kenyan who ran 2:04:27 at Rotterdam in April, you have a matchup of epic proportions. Berlin will have very warm weather to contend with, which is unfortunate. Blame it on the German national elections a week from Sunday, which forced the marathon to be run a week earlier than usual. Both runners respect each other and will go for it if the weather allows. It should be a fun race to watch. There are other very strong runners in the race who could make it intriguing if one of big two fails. After Sunday, it's on to Chicago for the World Marathon Majors in what I hope is a safe and fast race in normal (not hot) weather on Oct. 11!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mikitenko Joins Chicago Marathon Field

The women's World Marathon Majors leader will be running in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11. This is another awesome recruiting job by executive director Carey Pinkowski. The following news release includes the names of a few other top elites as the field has been completed. Check it out:

Reigning World Marathon Majors Champion Irina Mikitenko Joins
2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Field

Addition of Several World Class Athletes Completes Elite Field for Oct. 11 Race

CHICAGO, IL (September 15, 2009) -- The Bank of America Chicago Marathon today announced its final roster of elite athletes headlined by reigning World Marathon Majors women's champion Irina Mikitenko (GER). The female competition also welcomes Japan's Mizuho Nasukawa, Russia's Liliya Shobukhova and Romania's Adriana Pirtea. The men's field deepened with the additions of Morocco's Abderrahim Goumri and Kenya's Vincent Kipruto.
Mikitenko arrives to Chicago having won the last three races in which she has competed - all World Marathon Majors (London 2008, 2009 and Berlin 2008). Her dominance at the finish line earned her the 2007-08 World Marathon Majors championship and has her poised atop the current leaderboard. Her 2:19:19 personal best, set in Berlin last fall, is the fastest time among any of the females competing in Chicago this fall. Mikitenko's top competition is likely to come from 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor (USA), who joined the field in June with her sights on lowering the American record she set in 2006 (2:19:36).
"I am greatly looking forward to racing in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as it is one of the world's fastest courses, but my decision to run there is also part of a larger professional goal,"said Mikitenko from Germany. "My hope is to win each of the five World Marathon Majors and a victory in Chicago would be the next big step toward that achievement."
"Irina has been the most consistent marathon champion over the last two-and-a-half years with back-to-back victories in London and a 2008 Berlin win," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "It has been amazing to watch her grow in athleticism, strength and tactical approach to become the leading female in marathoning today. The combination of women we've brought together will make for an exciting race."
The women's field is not a two-woman race, however. Shobukhova is a rising star in the sport having posted a 2:24:24 in her debut performance, one that earned her third place among a strong 2009 London Marathon field. Pirtea is a contender as well with a solid Chicago history to her credit. Returning for her third consecutive year in Chicago, Pirtea is hungry to capture the victory that narrowly eluded her in 2007 when she took second behind two-time champion Berhane Adere (ETH). Not to be forgotten, returning champion Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) committed earlier this summer to make an attempt at retaining her 2008 crown and at becoming only the eighth woman in Chicago Marathon history to win the race more than once.
Kipruto, a 21-year-old from Kenya adds intrigue to the men's field having captured the world's attention with a new course record (2:05:47) in his 2009 Paris Marathon victory, only his second marathon appearance. Goumri will look to continue the Moroccan tradition in Chicago, mirroring the talents and top finishes of Abdelkader el Mouaziz, Khalid Khannouchi and Jaouad Gharib. As one of three men in the field with a sub-2:06 personal record (2:05:30), Goumri will challenge Kipruto and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Sammy Wanjiru, 22, who announced his intentions this summer to post a new personal record improving on the 2:05:10 he set in London this year.
Former Chicago champion Patrick Ivuti (2007) recently withdrew from competition due to minor injury.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a history of producing some of the world's fastest times including four previous world records and more than 15 national records. With its flat, sleek course design, exceptional operational scheme and tradition of enthusiastic sports fans, the race is a lightning rod for the world's greatest athletes. With the addition of today's athletes the current field boasts two Olympic Marathon medals, three Chicago Marathon championships, 10 World Marathon Major race victories and one World Marathon Majors championship.
A complete roster of elite athletes for the October 11 Bank of America Chicago Marathon follows:

Name Country Personal Best
Teyba Erkesso Ethiopia 2:24:18
Lidiya Grigoryeva Russia 2:25:10
Carol Jefferson United States Debut
Deena Kastor United States 2:19:36
Irina Mikitenko Germany 2:19:19
Tera Moody (St. Charles native) United States 2:33:54
Mizuho Nasukawa Japan 2:25:38
Adriana Pirtea Romania 2:28:52
Liliya Shobukhova Russia 2:24:24
Melissa White United States 2:37:53

Name Country Personal Best
Boaz Cheboiywo Kenya 2:21:40
Evans Cheruiyot Kenya 2:06:25
Abderrahim Goumri Morocco 2:05:30
Procopio Franco Hernandez Mexico 2:11:42
Vincent Kipruto Kenya 2:05:47
Wesley Korir Kenya 2:08:24
Benjamin Maiyo Kenya 2:07:09
Charles Munyeki Kenya Debut
Seth Pilkington United States Debut
Patrick Rizzo (Schaumburg native) United States 2:17:05
Bret Schoolmeester United States Debut
Tadese Tola Ethiopia Debut
Sammy Wanjiru Kenya 2:05:10

North Park Names Stolley New Coach

For you true geeks, North Park College has named Skip Stolley as its new track and field coach. For the story on this talented coach, check out:

Yep, This Week It's the Alpine Half

I am sidelined with a foot injury and will be out of town anyway, but my favorite Chicago-area half-marathon is this Sunday in Lake Zurich. The Alpine Races Half-Marathon features great scenery with the lake, nice neighborhoods, a few hills and a fun atmosphere. Until this year, it was on the CARA Circuit (competitive races for points in each age group), which became the Runers' Choice Series this year. If you want a nice half-marathon experience, head to Lake Zurich. And if you see Pat and Beth Onines, say hello to two of the most decidated running organizers and volunteers in our state.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sheehan, Ellis Take Crystal Lake Half

In that "other" half-marathon Sunday, Matt Sheehan, 27, of Arlington Heights, and Jenny Ellis, 24, of Port Barrington, won the Crystal Lake Memorial Half Marathon. Sheehan was comfortably in front with a nice 1:13.15.1, and Ellis had an even bigger victory margin in the women's competition with a 1:22:41.8. Back on the men's side, Nate McPherson, 24, of Palatine took runner-up honors with a 1:18:00.4, and Jose Cascia, 41, of Loves Park (near Rockford), was third in 1:19:27.4 Second and third women were Terry Odell, 48, of Rockford, in 1:31:31.1, and Shanna Piggott, 31, of Round Lake, in 1:31:47.6. There were 509 finishers.

Rizzo, White Win Chicago Half Marathon

Patrick Rizzo, 26, and Melissa White, 28, both members of the Hansons team based in Rochester Hills, Mich., were the winners of the Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday. Rizzo won the men's and overall title, dethroning three-time winner Greg Costello, 28, of Chicago, with a 1:07:49 to Costello's 1:08:50. White was way ahead on the women's side, running a 1:14:56. Amanda Domich, 24, of Chicago, was second in 1:20:05. Back on the men's side, third through fifth went to Emisael Favela, 32, of Cicero, in 1:08:55; Jose Munez, 24, of San Antonio, Texas, in 1:09:14; and Matthew Lacey, 25, of Chicago, in 1:09:38. A lot of other prominent runers graced the top 20 in this race which had 13,854 finishers on a nice morning along the lakefront. In the women's race, Christina Overbeck, 23, of Chicago, was third in 1:21:40. Fourth and fifth went to Amber Druien, 24, of Woodstock, in 1:21:48, and Carol Jefferson, 26, of Rochester Hills, Mich., in 1:22:33.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Verzbicas Blasts Out of Starting Gate

Lukas Verzbicas, the phenomenal high school runner/triathlete-duathlete, is worth watching. If you didn't see it in person or read the accounts in the Sun-Times and Tribune on Sunday, the 16-year-old sophomore made his debut for Sandburg High School wish a smashing win at the Lions Pride Invitational, hosted by Lyons Township in Western Springs. He covered the 4,800-meter course in 14:19.76, more than 16 seconds better than the course record he set there last year as a freshman at Lincoln-Way Central. Runner-up Sam Telfer of Lyons, an all-stater last year, came in at 15:15.62. Everyone wants to see what Verzbicas do on Sept. 19 at the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational at Detweiller Park, site of the state meet in November, but Lukas may be tapering that week for the International Triathlon Union Short Course World Duathlon Championship in Concord, N.C. Then it's likely he'll focus on cross-country throughout the rest of the fall. This kid is incredible. There's no telling what he might do before his high school career is over.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fryin, Hattendorf Win Oak Brook Half-Marathon

With a bit of fog and a lot of humidity, runners at the second annual Oak Brook Half-Marathon got going about 7:20 a.m. on Monday, 20 minutes late. When it was over, Mark Fryin, 23, of Elmhurst, was the winner in 1:11:19. Joseph Sepe, 23, of Madison, Wis., was second in 1:13:10.8, and Mike Ptack, 23, of Elmhurst, was third in 1:13:41.5. The women's championships went to Lindsay Hattendorf, 25, of Crown Point, Ind., who ran a 1:18:58.9. I remember Lindsay from when she came up in 2007 and won the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th. Second woman on Monday was Kim Miltz, 35, of Hoffman Estates. Miltz, who once ran in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, ran a 1:24:14.9, Third-place finisher was Jennifer Goebel, 27, of Lombard, who ran a 1:26:53.8. I was not at the race but I heard there was some confusion about when it would start. I am told it was announced that the race would start at 7:30 from its original 7 a.m. Then it was changed back to 7:15 and eventually went off at 7:20. There were 1,509 finishers. Congrats to all.

The Fast Lane -- Park Forest Scenic 5-Miler

It was a bit humid, but the temperature was 63 with cloud cover as runners in the Park Forest Scenic 5 headed out on Monday morning. It was a small but quality group of runners for the race directed by Bud James. In the men's division, Kenyan Julius Kiptoo, 32, based in Durham, N.C., won in 23:30, setting an event record. Harbert Okuti, 23, based in New Rochelle, N.Y., was second in 23:56, and Lazarus O Nyakeraka, 33, living in Country Club Hills, Ill., was third in 23:57. As you can see, James still has no problem luring top-level runners to his watered-down event from what used to be the nationally-known Scenic 10. On the women's side, defending champion Lucie Mays-Sulewski, 39, of Westfield, Ind., won again in 28:56. She was followed by Jean E. Marinangeli, 25, of Arlington Heights in 29:05, and CARA overall women's leader Suet-Fei Li, 33, of Schaumburg, in 29:20. This was a superb event with no flaws to speak of. It was a small field of 372 finishers, many of whom were competing for points on the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit. For those of you who have raced in Park Forest in the past, but have not done the 5-miler, the pancakes are better than ever!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Juhl Wins Foot Mechanics 13.1: Updated

Lars Juhl (photo) won the second annual Foot Mechanics Half-Madness 13.1 on Sunday in Batavia with plenty of room to spare. Juhl, 32, of Chicago, was by himself as he crossed the finish line in 1:07:45. Nick Hird, 25, of Naperville, was runner-up in 1:11:37, and Steve Imig, 32, of Geneva, was third in 1:12:28. The women's division was won by Lisa Phillps, 24, of Aurora, who ran a 1:27:42. Elena Shemayakina, 50, of Geneva, was second in 1:28:20, and Janeth Salazar-Ohst, 42, of Naperville, one of the area's strong and consistent runners over the years, was third in 1:30:45. Hird won the men's race last year in 1:09:20. Last year's women's champ, Carrie Day, finished in 1:32:38, good for fifth place this time. That time was 2:20 faster than her winning time last year. There were 989 finishers.

Buffalo Grove Stampede Opens the Weekend

The annual Buffalo Grove Stampede 5K and 10K in the northwest suburb drew its usual level of competitors on Sunday with Ryan Guilano, 24, of Schaumburg, just edging Julius Rotich, 34, of West Des Moines, Iowa, to win the 5K, 16:05.6 to 16:06.0. In the 10K, Sammy Rotich, 22, brother of Julius, won easily in 35:12. Both will run tomorrow in the Park Forest Scenic 5-Miler, a CARA Runners' Choice Series race. Among those they'll encounter there will be fellow Kenyan Julius Kiptoo, who won the Park Forest race in 2005, when it still was a national-class 10-miler. Back in Buffalo Grove on Sunday, Chris Wiatr, 18, of Long Grove, took third in the 5K with a 17:18.1 In the women's 5K, Petrana Peticorra, 36, of Lafayette, Ind., won in 19:50. Next in was Valerie Laniosz, 27, hometown not known, in 20:31. Third went to Elizabeth Cox, 13, of Palatine, in 20:36. In the 10K, men's runner-up was Archie Barribeau, 37, of North Fond du Lac, Wis., in 36:31.8, and third was taken by Sam Ramirez, 42, of Chicago, in 37:26.1. The women's 10K was won by Jacqui Aubert, 23, of Crystal Lake, in 40:28.9. Second went to Heather Weis, 23, of Chicago, in 40:48.1, with third going to Carrie Seiberlich, 37, of Kenosha, Wis., in 41:51.9. There 464 finishers in the 5K and 291 in the 10K.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Foot Mechanics Field at About 1,200

The Foot Mechanics Half Madness 13.1 half marathon goes off on Sunday morning in Batavia. It's a scnic route along and near the Fox River. A close source says the field will be at about 1,200 with defending champion Nick Hird of Rock Island (1:09:20 last year) heading the lineup. Another runner in that time range reportedly is entered. Defending women's champ is Carrie Day of Geneva, who ran 1:34:58 in last year's debut of this event.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor Day Weekend -- First Look

It's shaping up to be quite a weekend of racing throughout the Chicago area. From the top-shelf events like the Buffalo Grove 10K and 5K and Foot Mechanics Half-Madness half-marathon in Batavia, both on Sunday, to the Park Forest Scenic 5-Miler and Oak Brook Half-Marathobn on Monday, there's a lot going on. Then you throw in a solid mix of fun but maybe a little less competitive community races and you have a Labor Day of love for thousands of runners.
For now, I'm focusing on Park Forest. Race director Bud James has helped re-invent this event from a national-level 10-miler into a strong area 5-miler. It's still on the CARA Circuit (Runners' Choice Series), and there's still prize money, so count on a good group of runners.
"The race should be about 500 or so," Bud told me via e-mail on Thursday. "We have a good field. Julius Rotich, who won last year is back as is Lucie Mays-Sulewski. We have Sammy Rotich joining Julius this year and Matt Thull is coming from Wisconsin along with a group of decent guys from that direction. It is some of the same guys who gave us depth in the Scenic 10! The course is fast and we have a good bit of the music we had before. It actually had a better ratio of music per mile last year than the Scenic 10 had. There is almost two miles on the Old Plank Trail, which resembles the forest preserve. We tried to give it a Scenic 10 look. Hopefully the weather will be good, too. I am looking at the entries later today to see if we have anyone in the race that we don't know about."
As for the other races, expect strong fields and great venues. I'll be back with more information as it trickles in.