Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday's Champs Edge Sunday's at Schaumburg

In the first half-marathon doubleheader I've ever heard of, the Saturday winners came in just ahead of the Sunday winners at the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half-Marathons Nov. 27 and 28 at Busse Woods between Schaumburg and Elk Gove Village. On Saturday, Brent Alexander, 30, of Wilmette, won in 1:11:18.2, compared to Sunday winner Mac McCulley, 26, who ran 1:11:52.6. It was similar on the women's side as Jean Marinangeli, 26, of Arlington Heights, won on Saturday with a 1:21:07.4, nudging Sunday winner Meghan Kennihan, 29, of La Grange, who ran a 1:21:31.9. This two-race concept must have been a challenge beyond belief for race organizers, but it appears they pulled it off. Decent weather did help, I'm sure.
Back to Saturday, the field was tougher as Ryan Giuliano, 25, of Schaumburg, took second in 1:12:48.5, and Brian Grudowski, 29, of Buffalo Grove, took third in 1:14:37.8. Conversely on Sunday, Marco Alfaro, 23, placed second in 1:16:58.3, and Alfredo Delgado, also 23, was third in 1:16:59.1. Saturday's women's runner-up was Sherri Albus, 27, in 1:27:27.6, and third was taken by Angela Homberg, 39, in 1:29:48.6. Sunday's second and third women were Maria Cristi Homorozan, 35, in 1:30:47.3, and Aneta Ziemianska, 32, in 1:31:03.3 There were 681 finishers on Saturday plus 330 in the 5K. There were 581 on Sunday.
Some people ran both days, including Marinangeli, who jogged a 1:34 on Sunday! If you ran, give us your report! Congrats to all.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Verzbicas 'Coasts' to Foot Locker Midwest Win

Watching Sandburg's Lukas Verzbicas finish the Foot Locker Midwest boys cross-country championship on Saturday at UW Parkside in Kenosha, WI, you got the idea he just wanted to get in ahead of Fatzum Zeinasellassie of Indianapolis and save a little for next weekend's Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon. Lukas won it, looking back a couple of times in the last 100 meters, with a 14:44.2. Zeinasellassie was second in 14:47.6. They were way out in front in this studded field as third place went to Tony Smorgiewicz of Rapid City, SD, in 15:00.9. The rest of Illinois' top five went like this: 5. Jack Driggs, Elmhurst (York), 15:06.9; 13. Michael Clevenger, Decatur, 15:21.3; 18. Ben Silver, Downers Grove (North), 15:24.8; 36. William Hague, Winnetka (New Trier), 15:43.5. The girls title was won by Allison Woodward of De Pere, WI, in 17:18.6. Ilinois had five runners in the top 18. They were: 6. Kayla Beattie, Woodstock, 17:33.6; 12. Kelly Whitley, Geneva, 17:55.4; 15. Jill Hardies, Hinsdale, 18:11.2; 17. Alyssa Schneider, Bartlett, 18:16.7; 18. Julie James, Gridley, IL, 18:18.1. There are some good videos at

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thousand-Plus Trot in Lincolnwood

The Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 5K and 10K produced some nice late-fall times on Sunday as 696 runners completed the 5K and 483 the 10K. Michael Lucchesi, 32, of Lisle, won the 10K in 32:50 with Colleen Baker of Evanston taking the women's title in 40:29. Jeff Hojnacki, 36, of Chicago, won the 5K in 16:31, and Columba Montes, 31, of Chicago, took the women's honors in 17:51. There was some bib-sharing in the 10K (don't get me started, but I am sick of it). There is no way the 63-year-old listed as second overall in 32:51 really was. We'll give the runner-up spot to Juan Munoz, 43, of Cicero, who ran a 35:39 and was listed as third. Someone apparently finished second, just a second behind Lucchesi, but can't be the person listed. Does anyone know who it was? On the women's side in the 10K, Sang Boon Lee, 40, of Chicago, was second in 40:55, and Julie Wankowski, 40, of Glen Ellyn, was third in 41:07. In the 5K, Matt Cook, 17, of Lake Villa, was second in 16:59, and Felipe Lopez, 34, of Chicago, was third in 17:05. In the 5K women's competition, Mimi Smith, 13, of Wilmette, was second in 18:58, and Kayoko Hamamura, 49, of Chicago, was third in 20:00. A plethora of turkey trots is on the menu for Thursday morning. Check the Chicago Athlete schedule.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pilgrim Pacer to Santino, Bingham

I ventured to La Grange today for my first-ever run at the 10th annual Pilgrim Pacer 5K. This one belonged to the young as Patrick Santino, 16, of Chicago, won in 16:22, while Kala Bingham, 20, of La Grange, was the female winner in 19:19. Male runner-up was Jack Keelan, 15, of La Grange Park, in 16:23 (one-second loss), and third went to Nick Peney, 20, of Crystal Lake, in 16:33. Second-place woman was Lisa Menninger, a good friend and the female course-record holder, in 19:43. Third was taken by Haley Prokaski, 15, of La Grange Park, in 20:17. There were 595 finishers. As part of The Runner's Soul team, it was fun to see new customers from the new store located less than a mile away in this excellent community event put on by the local Rotary Club. As I said, this was the first time I've run the Pilgrim Pacer, and I must say it's a good race on a nice course through beautiful neighborhoods. It was also great to see people I knew from the CARA circuit sprinkled in the crowd in a lower-key non-circuit environment.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

North Central 2nd in NCAA Div. III

Naperville's North Central College placed second on Saturday at the NCAA Division III men's cross-country championships at Wartburg (Iowa) College. North Central went in with a slight chance of winning its 13th NCAA title under coach Al Carius, but Haverford (Pa.) was too strong and won with 87 points to North Central's 104. Here's the NC lineup and results:
2 Michael Spain, Sr 24:24.6
11 Neal Klein, Jr 24:40.2
21 Matthew Perez, Fr 24:48.4
28 Nathan Warstler, Sr 24:54.3
42 Matt Brinkmeier, So 25:11.1
58 Dan Kerley, So 25:18.9
81 Timothy Hird, Fr 25:29.9
Total Time = 2:03:58.4 Total Places = 104
In the women's race, Middlebury (Vt.) was the champion. University of Chicago was the top area team, finishing 10th.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Turkey Trots Here, There and Everywhere

It's that time of the year. We're talking turkey from one end of the Chicago area to the other and then back again. Turkey runs do well with college kids back in town, runners hungry for fast times as well as dinner on Thanksgiving Day and just the spirit of giving that pervades the crisp autumn air this time of year. Lincolnwood and La Grange (Pilgrim Pacer) are two of the good ones for this weekend, and then a bunch more (see Chicago Athlete's schedule) take place Thursday. Others have already been run (Tinley Park, Montgomery for example) I've run a few in the past (Elmhurst's Dan Gibbons Run, Downers Grove and Naperville) and really have enjoyed them. The most unique turkey (trots) are in Schaumburg. The Schaumburg Half-Marathon and 5K on Saturday and Sunday (that's right), Nov. 27 and 28, includes a half-marathon in Busse Woods both days. The Saturday half is sold out, but the Sunday half still has some openings. Incredible. If you can work a turkey trot of any length into your schedule, go for it. Most of them are for very worthy causes. In this economy, helping people less fortunate is a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

High School XC Skiing in Illinois?

Michigan's got it. Minnesota's got it. Wisconsin's got it. Why can't we at least have high school XC skiing at a bare-minimum level in Illinois? We have some of the strongest cross-country running programs in the nation. Surely, there must be a runner out there who would also like to be good on skinny skis. I realize those other states have much more snow, but when we get it, we know how to use it. My goal is to have a low-key high school division at the Northern Illinois Nordic cross-country ski races at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton on Saturday, Jan. 8. If you know of any high school athlete who wants to compete on cross-country skis at any level, please leave a comment or e-mail me directly at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

York Leaves No Doubt at Midwest Regional

I'll admit I thought York (Kroy T.C.) faced a stiff challenge on Sunday at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, IN. But Kroy did the job, winning the boys title and an automatic berth in the nationals next month with 140 points.
Palatine's girls also led their parade, winning tickets to Oregon in December. York (Kroy) was led by Jack Driggs, who finished second to Carl Sandburg's Lukas Verzbicas with a 15:05.2. Verzbicas blew the field away with a 14:53.1 on the 5K course. The rest of York's (Kroy's) top five were Nick Gornick, 17th in 15:48; Ron Hedman, 31st in 16:00; Matt Simo, 40th in 16:03; and Tom Hedman, 50th in 16:08. Columbus North, the Indiana state champions and rated ahead of York in national rankings, took second with 146 points. Illinois teams dominated from there with Palatine T.C. (Palatine) third at 169, Naperville South T.C. (Neuqua Valley) fourth with 185, Oak Park Ghost Ruinners (Oak Park) fifth with 230 and Belvidere T.C.(Belvidere North) sixth with 251. Alpine (Lake Zurich), second in the Illinois state meet, finished ninth. Belvidere North, the Illinois Class 2A champion that did beat York early in the season, surprised me. I really thought that was the team York would have the most trouble beating. Back to the girls, Palatine had a top five consisting of Courtney Brown, 2nd in 18:09; Tess Wasowicz, 11th in 18:39; Sarah McIntosh, 16th in 18:51; Emily Schulte, 19th in 18:58; and Becca Sund, 24th in 19:04. Congrats to Kry T.C. and Palatine T.C.! One more thing. If you look at the boys open race. York (Kroy) showed its future hand, dominating the competition to win with 42 points. The Midwest Regional consists of the best teams and individual runners from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri. Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota teams compete in the Heartland Regional out in South Dakota.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Favela, Gabrys Tops at Gobbler Hobbler

The annual Gobbler Hobbler 10K in far-west suburban Montgomery drew its usual strong field on Saturday with Emisael Favela and Abby Gabrys posting victories. Favela, 33, of Cicero, won it going away in 32:45. Second was long-time local workhorse Chris Toepfer, 47, of Chicago, in 34:44.0, and third went to another strong masters runners, Bob Cisler, 41, of Clarendon Hills, who ran a 34:55.3. Gabrys, 27, of Oswego, was the women's winner in 41:21.5. Claire Peters, 24, of Naperville, was runner-up in 42:06.4, and Briana Stuepfert, 16, of Yorkville, was third in 42:28.3. Warm temps held on for this race, which had 529 finishers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mythical Duel: York vs. Belvidere North

As some people have confided in me, Class 3A state champion York wasn't the fastest team in the state cross-country meet but had people in the right places, which is really the only thing that counts. In Class 3A, runner-up Lake Zurich had a faster total time by 9 seconds, but then York did have a runner disqualified, which skewed and slowed its total time. More interesting is Class 2A champion Belvidere North, which creamed its division with a 28-point final total. It was faster in total time than York and only two seconds slower than Lake Zurich, but it can be argued that its runners had fewer high-quality opponents to navigate through than the Class 3A champs and runners-up did. One good friend took the times of the top five runners for York and Belvidere North and came up with a mythical 21-34 dual-meet victory for Belvidere North. I think it would be much closer, maybe 27-28, with both teams having a chance to win. Any thoughts? The Midwest Regionals in Terre Haute, IN, could be extra-special.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kern, Ryan 'Choc' Up Chocolate Wins

Charlie Kern of Elmhurst and Suzanne Ryan of West Chicago managed to stay ahead of the big field on Saturday and won the expanded third annualk Hot Chocolate 15K. The race, which had 12,364 official finishers, was on a new course (about 9.3 miles) that started in Grant Park and went south and back, including some stone path on portions of the trail. Kern, 41, one of the best coaches in the country (my opinion) won in 50:50, easily bested runner-up Josh Yelsey, 27, of Chicago, who ran a 51:13. Third place went to Jeff Thomas, 30, of Chicago, in 52:43. Ryan, 36, of West Chicago, won the women's race in 57:29, also easily triumphing over second-place Vidthya Abraham, 25, of Chicago, who ran a 59:01. Third went to Kristen Herrman, 24, of Ann Arbor, MI, in 59:43. In the 5K, which as 12,702 fun-loviong, chocolate-loving finishers, victory went to Jeff Hojnacki, 36, of Chicago, in 16:11, and Pamela Staton, 23, of Ingleside, in 18:06. Second and third men were Anton Sella, 26, of Chicago, in 16:21, and Eric Lesch, 34, of Chicago, in 16:32. Second and third women were Ashley Ralph, 22, of Chicago, in 18:29, and Meg Sullivan, 31, of Downers Grove, in 18:42. From what I've heard, it was not easy to run fast in the two Hot Chocolate races. It was a very crowded race, better suited for social running than PRs. Did you run? What did you think? By the way, Ryan was the women's winner on Sunday in the Hot Cider Hustle 8-mile in Wheaton with a time of 50:03. Not a bad weekend when you win the Hot Chocolate and Hot Cider!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

York Does It -- State Title No. 27 for Joe Newton

York's Dukes won the Class 3A boys state cross-country championship on Saturday, but it was close. The Elmhurst school won it with 162 points with second-place Lake Zurich coming in at 164. Congrats to York, which did it with six runners. I do not have the story on why No. 7 did not finish. Congrats to individual winner Lukas Verzbicas, who came close but did not break the course record set by Craig Virgin in 1972. Here are the basics:
1. Elmhurst (York) 162
2 Lake Zurich 164
3 Naperville (Neuqua Valley) 180
4 Palatine (H.S.) 189
5 O'Fallon (H.S.) 200
6 Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest) 232
7 Winnetka (New Trier) 245
8 Barrington 268
9 LaGrange (Lyons) 296
10 Orland Park (Sandburg) 304
Top Individuals
1 Lukas Verzbicas, Orland Park (Sandburg) 13:54
2 Jack Driggs, Elmhurst (York) 14:16

Schaumburg won the girls title, 112-121 over rival Palatine.
In Class 2A, Belvidere North won with a very impressive 28-point total.
Complete info on all the races is at

Friday, November 5, 2010

High School State Meet Playing in Peoria

Tomorrow is the big day for the top high school runners in Illinois. Peoria's Detweiller Park again will host the IHSA State Meet, which includes competition in three classes for boys and girls. In the big races (Class 3A), York has a chance to win its 27th boys state championship under legendary coach Joe Newton, but it's not a lock. The Dukes are led by Jack Driggs, but it will be up to his teammates to dig down and beat Neuqua Valley, New Trier, Oak Park and maybe others. In the girls competition, it will be a battle between Schaumburg and Palatine. Individually on the boys' side, all eyes will be on Lukas Verzbicas of Sandburg (photo) as he takes his last shot at Craig Virgin's course record of 13:50.6, which was set in 1972. On a personal note, good luck to good friend Will Kupisch, who is stepping down as coach at Downers Grove North after the race. Also, for anyone going to Peoria today, the Illinois Valley Striders will host the annual IHSA Cross Country Social tonight from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the LaSalle Room at the Hotel Pere Marquette in Downtown Peoria. "Coaches, Officials, Volunteers, and Friends of the IHSA Cross Country Championships are invited to this Open House event," a press release stated. For very good previews of the state meet, check out today's Chicago Sun-Times. Mike Clark does an excellent job of summing things up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monster Dash Goes to Ware, Hattendorf

The half-marathons just keep on coming, even on Halloween weekend. The Team Ortho Monster Dash 13.1 was run in the city in times that seem slow to me, judging by whom some of the runners were. Good examples are the winners. Chad Ware, 26, of Deerfield, who I know wants to run a sub-2:20 marathon, won it in 1:13:43. Lindsay Hattendorf, 26, of Cedar Lake, IN (another former 4 on the 4th winner!), took the women's race in 1:22:56. On the men's side, the runner-up was Brian Butzler, 27, of Waukesha, WI, in 1:15:37, and third was earned by Paul Rollet, 26, of Chicago, in 1:20:23. Yes, the field was not deep despite 2,405 finishers. On the women's side, Anna Weber ,22, of Michigan City, IN, took second in 1:25:11, and Krista Vrombaut, 28, of Rock Island (out on the Mississippi River) placed third in 1:25:42.

Carrera de los Muertos to Favela, Montes

Saturday's Carrera de los Muertos (Race of the Dead) in Chicago was taken by Emisael Favela, 33, of Cicero, in 15:57 and Columba Montes, 31, of Chicago, in 18:06. Both are prominent runners on the Chicago running landscape, and both are still alive after their winning runs! This race, which features a little bit of everything when it comes to Halloween weekend, had 655 male finishers and 863 female finishers. With some costumes, it might have been tough to tell which was which! At any rate, runner-up male was Juan Hiatt, 32, of Chicago, in 16:22, and third went to Jeremy Borling, 30, of Chicago, in 16:47. It's good to see Jeremy racing after a long year of helping produce the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. On the women's side, Clara Prouty, 35, of Oak Park, was second in 18:10, and Hayden Kristiansen, 31, of Chicago, was third in 19:58. I saw the names of lots of good friends in the results of this race. You know who you are. Congrats!