Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Don't Need Age Discrimination

After The Race That's Good for Life 5K in Oak Park this year, several older runners, including two who are 85 or older, asked me why CARA does not have an 85-89 age group in the Runner's Choice Circuit. As it is now, there is an 80-plus category. If you go to the current CARA standings, three of the top five male runners in 80-plus are 85. How would you feel if you were 45 and had to compete against the 40-44 crowd? You get the picture. I know my (Elmhurst Running Club's) 4 on the 4th (4 on the 3rd this year) will have an 85-plus group for the second time this year, and I saw the Shamrock Shuffle had one this year. Maybe others do, too. I think it's time to salute our super seniors and provide the same fair competition the rest of us get. While I'm at it, I'd like to propose that runners in 80-84 and 85-plus only be required to complete five Circuit races to be counted in the final award standings. I don't think these fine people want to run too many 10-milers, half-marathons or the marathon in order to get 10 finishes. The fact that we've got a growing number of super seniors is living evidence that this fitness thing is really working. That's my take on this. I've been meaning to write this for quite a while.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No Circuit No Problem for Ravenswood 5K

Being left off the CARA Runners Choice Circuit this year didn't seem to deter from the popularity of the Ravenswood 5K on Sunday. Despite the threat of rain and many other local races at the same time, the Fleet Feet-driven event on Chicago's North Side had 2,929 finishers. I'm happy for all concerned. Winners were Todd Ptacek (15:07) and Heather Prekop (17:53). Runner-up male was Brent Alexander in 15:35. and third went to Mark Wehrman in 15:43. Wehrman had made the top three the day before in the Lakefront 10-miler. In the women's division, Christina Overbeck was second in 18:02 and Christine Anderson was third in 18:46. Interestingly, Anderson had won the Race to Wrigley 5K the day before in 18:17. Lars Juhl won that race in 15:25.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ware, Langford Rule Lakefront 10

Chad Ware, 25, of Deerfield, and Jessica Langford, 38, of Rockford, were the class of the field on Saturday as CARA's Lakefront 10-Miler was run in Lincoln Park, along Chicago's lakefront. Ware won the CARA Runner's Choice Circuit event in 51:54.0, easily besting runner-up Jesse Kleinjan, 26, of Chicago, who clocked 53:30.6. Langford also was in command, cruising in ahead of second-place Columba Montes, 30, of Chicago, who ran a 1:01:20.9. Third-through-fifth men were Mark Wehrman, 23, Chicago, 53:31.9; Brice Young, 24, Boulder, CO, 54:43.0; and Jerome Tharaud, 30, Chicago, 55:01.8. Taking third, fourth and fifth on the women's side were Suet-Fei Li, 34, Schaumburg, 1:02:41.4; Maria Cicero, 27, Elmhurst, 1:03:29.6; and Kristin Schranz, 33, Valencia, CA, 1:03:41.6. It was nice to see this race get run when the heavy rain was taking a break. It was amazing to see some good friends who ran Boston show up in the Lakefront 10 results with good times!

Friday, April 23, 2010

New Fox Valley Marathon On for Sept. 19

As previously mentioned here, thanks to good friends who live near the Fox River, I can confirm that the new Fox Valley Marathon is definitely on for Sept. 19. Location will be St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia. For all the information, which includes a half-marathon and 20-miler, go to the following link:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston 2010: Worth Every Cramp

If there was a somewhat common theme at Boston this year it was that cramps crept in on runners of all abilities in the late going, especially from mile 20 to the finish. This means people who trained properly as well as people (like me) who might not have put in all the necessary mileage, experienced this cramping just when it was least expected -- midway through or after the Newton Hills. With temperatures close to perfect and adequate hydration reported in most cases, it was a bit mystifying, but something that is just part of the lore and charm of this extra-special marathon. There was wind, hitting from all sides at one time or another, and that could have been a contributing culprit, but who really knows? At any rate, at this moment, counting wheelchair athletes and handcyle competitors, there were 995 finishers from Illinois.
Our first finisher was wheelchair racer extraordinaire Adam Bleakney, 34, of Champaign, who finished 9th among the rollers in 1:38:01.
Top male runners were Greg Costello, 29, of Chicago, who was 41st overall in 2:26:01; Trey Robinson, 26, of Evanston, 134th in 2:35:59; Michel Jacques, 26, of Evanston, 140th in 2:36:12; Derek S. Holland, 32, of Chicago, 150th in 2:36:50; and Harley Johnson, 36, of Urbana, 164th in 2:37:33.
Top females were Julie A. Zehr, 29, of Ottawa, who was 63rd in 2:57:25; Jean Marinangeli, 26, of Arlington Heights, 70th in 2:58:10; Janet Leet, 44, of Arlington Heights, 74th in 2:59:14; Candace Caveny, 40, of Mascoutah, 98th in 3:02:30; and Loryn King, 26, of Oak Park, 112th in 3:03:53.
Others who really stood out were Doris Schertz, 71, of Lombard, who WON the F70-74 age group with a 4:25:04; Nancy Rollins, 63, of Evanston, who placed 2nd in the F60-64 group with a 3:34:00; Brian Sweney, 51, of Chicago, who finished 9th in the M50-54 group; and Elena Shemyakina, 50, of Geneva, who finished 9th in F50-54.
Finally, everyone knows that American Ryan Hall of Mammoth Lakes, CA, placed 4th with a 2:08:41, the fastest time ever run by an American at Boston. But did you know we had our own Ryan Hall? Yep, Ryan Hall, 30, of Chicago, a local shoe rep., finished in 3:09:44. Way to go, Ryan! And good friend Mark Buciak, 49, of Chicago, nursed a sore achilles tendon to register his 31st consecutive Boston finish. He came across in 4:05. Great job, Mark.
Congratulations to all who ran Boston!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Illinois Sending 1,173 to Boston Marathon

Taking the latest look at this Monday's 114th Boston Marathon, the state of Illinois will be well-represented by able-bodied runners as well as some of the best wheelchair racers in the country. The total of registered athletes from our state is now 1,173 through Thursday night, higher than any year I can remember. It's impossible to mention every good runner heading to Beantown from our state, but three who stand out are Dave Walters of Lisle in the M50-54 category, Nancy Rollins of Evanston in the F60-64 group and Kurt Fiene (M45-49) of Elmhurst in the Vision Impaired Division. All three have won or taken second in their category at Boston in the past. Rollins won F60-69 in 2008 and Fiene has won Visually Impaired the past two years. For the total marathon, 26,722 runners, 31 wheelchair racers and 23 handcycle competitors are registered. In the gigantic 18-39 age group (Boston does it this way), women outnumber men 5,942 to 5,446. Men still have the majority in every other age group (five-year increments after 18-39). I'm heading out to Boston on Saturday. I am looking forward to my "fun run" on Monday morning from the fabled hamlet of Hopkinton, MA! Photo of the finish area on Boylston Street was taken the day before the 2009 race.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jonaitis, Marinangeli Win at Oak Park

Jeff Jonaitis, Chad Ware and Paul Jellema, three big names on the Chicago-area running landscape, went 1-2-3 with sub-15 minute performances on Sunday, April 11, at The 29th anniversary Race That's Good for Life 5K in Oak Park. Jonaitis, 29, of Tinley Park, blasted out a 14:27.5 (4:40 per mile) to just edge Ware, 25, of Deerfield, who ran 14:28.4. Jellema, 25, based in Cedar Lake, IN, was third in 14:38.8. The field was extremely deep, and many heavy hitters showed up in the men's race and also on the women's side. Leading the women was Jean Marinangeli, 26, of Arlington Heights (photo shows her winning), who came in at 17:00.6 (5:29 per mile). Second went to Lindsay Hattendorf, 26, of Crown Point, IN, in 17:13.0, and third went to Valerie Hubbard, 24, of Kenosha, WI, in 17:21.7. Age-graded scoring, courtesy of CARA scorer Doug Pearson, showed Nancy Rollins, 63, of Evanston on top with her 20:45.5 scoring 972 out a possible. 1,000. Lois Gilmore, 79, of Janesville, WI, was next with 921 off of her 28:47.3. Jonaitis was top male at 893.
The hosting Oak Park Runners Club did another superb job of putting on this three-race event (separate women's kids and men's races). This race is simply well-done in every aspect. It's greatly appreciated by this runner and hopefully, everyone else who participates!
The results of this CARA Runner's Choice Circuit race read like a "who's who" in local running, and that includes every age group, female and male. You can check them out at In the meantime, here are the top men and women (run separately):
1 JEFF JONAITIS 29 1 14:27.5 4:40 TINLEY PARK Il
2 CHAD WARE 25 2 14:28.4 4:40 DEERFIELD IL
3 PAUL JELLEMA 25 3 14:38.8 4:43 CEDAR LAKE IN
4 BRENT ALEXANDER 29 4 15:09.0 4:53 CHICAGO IL
5 JESSE KLEINJAN 26 5 15:21.4 4:57 CHICAGO IL
7 CHARLIE KERN 40 2 15:31.2 5:00 ELMHURST IL
9 ANDREW JELLEMA 23 1 15:37.5 5:02 LANSING IL
10 JACEK KAFEL 34 1 15:45.5 5:05 RIVER FOREST IL
3 VALERIE HUBBARD 24 1 17:21.7 5:36 KENOSHA WI
5 COLUMBA MONTES 30 1 17:43.6 5:43 CHICAGO IL
7 SUETFEI LI 34 2 18:11.8 5:52 SCHAUMBURG IL
10 MARIA CICERO 27 4 18:28.0 5:57 ELMHURST IL

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Verzbicas Makes Running Times Cover!

Lukas Verzbicas, the national class prep runner and world-class junior triathlete who goes to Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park and competes for the Multisport Madness club in the west suburbs, has made the latest cover of Running Times magazine. If this superb athlete can avoid injuries, he is one of the few teenagers in this country who could make a difference someday on the Olympic podiums in running, or more likely, triathloning. As I've written before, the first time I saw Lukas, he was trying to take the lead in the 2008 4 on the 4th race in Elmhurst and I didn't know who he was. I sure do now! I haven't read the Running Times story yet, but will as soon as my copy arrives in the mail. Go, Lukas, go!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meb, Deena Announced for New York

Later this month, Meb Keflezighi will be trying to win the Boston Marathon and Deena Kastor, the 2006 Chicago women's champion, will be going for it in London. On Wednesday, they were announced for the ING New York City Marathon in November as America's fall World Marathon Majors (Chicago yesterday) completed their spring recruiting campaigns! Meb and Deena, both train in Mammoth Lakes, CA, the same place where Ryan Hall (running Boston and heading to Chicago in October) trains. Meb is defending NYC champ. Good luck to all, in both spring and fall!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ryan Hall to Run Chicago in the Fall

Ryan Hall, who is in taper for the April 19 Boston Marathon, is signed to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, it was announced Tuesday. According to executive race director Carey Pinkowski, speaking in Chicago, and Hall, via a conference call hookup from Boston, the 27-year-old will attempt to lower the American record of 2:05:38, set by Khalid Khannouchi on April 14, 2002 at the London Marathon. Hall, who trains in Mammoth Lakes, CA, also will lead a tam of 100 runners representing his non-profit organization, The Hall Steps Foundation, which seeks to help end poverty. One of its specific goals is to establish a mentor running program for at-risk youth.
"I have been preparing for an attempt to lower the American record since I ran my first marathon in London in 2007," Hall said. "It's (Chicago is) remarkably flat and fast with a veteran production team that sets a stage for athletes to produce personal and national records, which is my goal. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon also has a long history of generating millions of dollars for charitable causes, so it felt like the ideal place to expand our Hall Steps Foundation running team from the 20 that will run in Boston to 100 in Chicago."
Hall's PR is 2:06:17, set in London in 2008 before he ran a 2:09:02 to win the Olympic trials at hilly New York going into the Beijing Games. He placed 10th on Beijing's flat course in 2:13:33.
Said Pinkowski: "Ryan is a very smart athlete and has gone about his career the right way, starting with an amazing debut in London in 2007. He has positioned himself for a breakout race in Chicago this fall and has all the focus and drive needed to make a run at the American record. What is unique about Ryan is his interest beyond personal success and his tireless charitable efforts. He's an athlete and a humanitarian."
Will an American record be good enough to win??
Chicago is out of the blocks fast. New York makes an announcement tomorrow. This is very early, but interesting nonetheless. Photo is copyrighted by Sports Illustrated, shot by Heinz Kluetmeir.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hopping to It!

The largest of the day-before-Easter races was the Chocolate Chase Rabbit 5K in Palos Heights. Despite some damp conditions, there were 521 finishers. Leading the "hunt" were Thomas Zero, 24, of Oak Lawn, who won the overall title in 17:55.7, and Megan Sullivan, 30, of Palos Heights, who led the women and finished third overall in 18:28.4. Second and third men were Chris Burke, 25, of Homewood, in 18:03.8, and Bob Jones, 47, of Bartlett, in 18:42.9. Second and third women were Allie Heniff, 19, of Mokena, in 20:12.5, and Leah Pascarella, 18, of Frankfort, in 21:16.4. A smaller run in Geneva, the Healthy Hop 5K, was won by Steve Nusser, 40, of Geneva, in 17:33.4 and Jennifer Chapman, 37, of Elburn, in 22:26.9. Finally, the Paws for Life 5K in Lisle, a benefit for the West Suburban Humane Society, had 39 finishers on a cross-country course. Winners were Kamal Khan, 17, of Lisle, in 20:07.2, and Eileen Skisak, 51, of La Grange Park, in 24:30. Congrats!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Marathons Sprint for the Headlines

The big news on the World Marathon Majors circuit should be the upcoming Boston and London Marathons, but you wouldn't know it by what's happening next week. First, the New York City Marathon announced it will hold a "Livestream" of its annual lottery at 11 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, April 7, and during the "Livestream," the first two professional elite runners for the Nov. 7 race will be announced. Then, and I love this, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that on Tuesday, April 6, it will have a conference call and major announcement about its 2010 elite field as well as news about this year's charities for our local race, set for Oct. 10 this year. As a sideline observer, I'd be a little peeved if I were on the Boston Marathon staff (April 19), but in the big picture, this will be a good way to kick-start some interest in our sport to the mainstreet media, not just the running media. Stay tuned. It's always exciting when Chicago and New York battle for the headlines. For those of you who don't follow this stuff, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York make up the World Marathon Majors, which also include the World Championship and Olympic marathons in the years they are run.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Well, How Did You Do?

Did you make your move and save $25 on your entry to the Rock & Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Aug. 1? Heading into yesterday, they were at just over 11,000 runners with a cap of 25,000. Last year, the race drew about 14,000 hearty half-marathoners. I can remember not too long ago when the run still was called the Chicago Distance Classic and a turnout of 6,000-7,000 was the norm. It's amazing how half-marathons are taking off. So what are you going to do with that $25? Here's a self-promoted idea. Enter the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 3rd ( Either way, enjoy this weather, get in some good runs and enjoy the holiday weekend!