Sunday, March 27, 2011

Zwagerman, Schooley Win Chi-Town Half

It seems as if there is a half-marathon almost every weekend these days. The latest, the Chi-Town Half in north Lincoln Park along Chicago's lakefront, was won by Tyler Zwagerman, 26, of Chicago, in 1:15:08. Zwagerman, a native of Holland, MI, and a former standout runner at Calvin College, is training for the Boston Marathon on April 18. He had a nice tuneup. Women's winner was Jenny Schooley, 27, of Chicago, in 1:27:37. Men's runner-up honors went to Richard Heffron, 27, of Chicago, in 1:16:11.8, while third place was earned by Mike Sommers, 23, of Mundelein, in 1:16:17.8. Lauren Lee, 51, of Buffalo Grove, is listed as second-place woman in 1:27:47.1. I doubt it, but I'll let it stand while my bib-sharing police go to work. Next were Elaine Mertens, 24, of Cedar Rapids, IA, in 1:30:05.7, and Alissa Bugh, 25, of Chicago, in 1:30:31.1 There were 644 finishers. There also was a 5K.

Frigid Day for Chicago 50K

In weather more conducive to winter sports, 132 hearty souls finished the Chicago Lakefront 50K on Saturday. The three-lap course on lakeshore bike trails started and finished at the Foster Avenue Beachhouse. Temps got into the 30s, but that was about it for the ultra runners and volunteers. Matthew Flaherty, 25, of Chicago, was the overall winner in 3:16:55. He was followed by Damian Bednorz, 31, of Chicago, in 3:23:55, and third place went to Arturo Gamez, 41, of Chicago, in 3:35:52. The top three women were Jennifer Benitez, 37, of Carol Stream, in 3:53:25; Shelley Cook, 36, of Waukegan, in 4:27:51; and Evangelina Muniz, 25, of Chicago, in 4:44:14. Northeast winds off the lake and cold temps made this a memorable one for everyone involved. Congrats!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Best Runner, Worst Rules -- That's Illinois

Lukas Verzbicas is the best high school distance runner in the nation. It would be hard to dispute that fact after he broke his own national 5,000-meter record and then won the two-mile and mile races a couple of weeks ago at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York. He also won the Foot Locker and Nike National cross-country races in the fall. So why isn't the Sandburg High School superstar competing at the unofficial indoor state track and field meet this weekend or outdoors at all later in the spring? Blame it on national and state rules. Basically, as sportswriter Mike Clark points out in his column today in the Sun-Times, "the IHSA (Illinois High school Association) doesn't permit athletes to compete in non-school meets during their sport season unless the event is sanctioned by the sport's national governing body." So the best of the best is shut out from competing in his own state. This is beyond ridiculous. For the full column, please see the Friday Sun-Times. Clark does a nice job of summarizing the situation. Speaking of the Sun-Times, I send my best wishes out to Steve Tucker and John Jackson, two outstanding writers and reporters who were laid off in the last week or two because of eonomic conditions. What's amazing is great coverage continues (for example: Verzbicas)despite a decimated Sun-Times staff.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Big Names Enter Shamrock Field

As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times (P. 56) today, U.S. Olympian Amy Yoder Begley and Canadian 10,000-meter record holder Simon Bairu plan to compete in the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle on April 10. Begley is a six-time U.S. champion and competed in the 2008 Olympics in the 10,000. Bairu was a two-time NCAA cross-country champion at the University of Wisconsin.
"I'm really excited to continue my return to high-level competition at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K after Achilles surgery last year," Begley said.
Bairu didn't hold back in his quote.
"I intent to start the season with a win," the Canadian said. "I remember those long cold winters in Madison, so I'm sure there will be a lot of enthusiasm out on the course as Chicagoans celebrate the arrival of spring."
Right about now, with snow forecast this weekend, the Shamrock made a good move by scheduling for April 10 this year.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's 2011: Let The Cheating Begin

You know by now how much I abhor the swapping of bibs. Last year, another runner and I spent the better part of two weeks getting two runners in our age group disqualified from the Soldier Field 10-Miler results. It moved me to second place and got me in position to be a contender on the CARA Runners Choice Circuit, at least for one year. It just keeps on happening. I really don't get it. The latest ridiculous result is Char Green of Romeoville, who "won" the women's 60-64 age group at the March Madness Half Marathon on Sunday in Cary with a 1:33. I don't think so. Recent results show Char ran a 2:19:38 at last year's off-road Naperville Half Marathon and a 5:10:23 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Two years ago, she ran a 2:06:42 at the Magellan Half and a 2:12:00 at the Las Vegas Half. Nancy Rollins of Evanston, ranked in the top two or three nationally in that age group, would not have run a 1:33. When will this nonsense stop? Probably not any time soon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wiley, Aubert Best at March Madness

The starting gun went off and the rain began on Sunday as the cultish March Madness Half Marathon in Cary wrote itself another chapter on the Chicago area running scene. This one featured wind and rain and some nice first-place performances by Rob Wiley, 35, of Gurnee, in 1:10:35.68, and Jacqui Aubert, 24, of Crystal Lake, in 1:24:50.22. Second and third on the men's side went to Archie Bareikis, 24, of Oak Forest, in 1:13:03.87, and Mac McCulley, 26, of Volo, in 1:13:36.00. Second and third women were Sanya Syrstad, 45, of Glen Ellyn, in 1:28:10.31, and Maria Cristi Homorozan, 36, of Chicago, in 1:28:57.65. A lot of people I know were racing. Hats off to all of you! I'd like to especially recognize new 80-year-old Bob Scott of Naperville, who ran a 2:23:29. That is absolutely awesome. Neither rain, wind, snow or anything else can stop this race. If you haven't done it, do it sometime. There were 1,038 finishers this year.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Carrigan, Druien Lead Strong Naperville St. Paddy's

The St. Paddy's Day 5K in Naperville on Saturday (March 12) had a large field with 1,784 finishers, and the men and women were led by some mid-season performances as Ryan Carrigan, 22, of Naperville, won in 15:20, and Amber Druien, 25, of Woodstock, paced the women in 18:17. Runners-up were Luke Demmel, 21, of Aurora, in 15:58, and Lydia Wong, 22, of Chicago, in 18:31. Finally, the third-place finishers were none other than former Olympic Marathon Trials runner John Weigel, 37, of Naperville, in 16:31, and Heather Hillman, 40, of Naperville, in 20:57. That's some nice runnin', and here's a special salute to John Weigel, who has been to the mountaintop a few times. If you look at the results sections from Chicago Athlete and Race Time, you'll see there were some other strong races last weekend. One notable performance was in the Spring Sprint 5K in Lisle, where Lois Gilmore, 80, of Janesville, WI, ran a 30:52. She would have won several much younger age groups. Way to go, Lois!

Monday, March 14, 2011

No Marathon Withdrawal for Me

Having not qualified for Boston this year, I wondered how I would be with no marathon focus this spring, and really, this year. To be honest, it's a relief. I have had time to recover from some serious cross-country ski marathons and can gear up for shorter races (Race That's Good for Life 5K in Oak Park, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K) without Beantown lingering in the back of my mind. Will I try to get back to Boston sometime? You bet I will. Of course, now you can't just qualify, you have to be quick on the keyboard. In the meantime, I'll try a race that's been on my bucket list since its inception four years ago, the Door County Half Marathon on May 7. Good luck to everyone running March Madness this Sunday and to all of you who are training for Boston or other spring marathons.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kern Runs 4:16.79

Elmhurst's Charlie Kern, running strong at age 41, turned in another fine performance on Friday night at North Central College in Naperville, running the mile in 4:16.79. Charlie, who led a training group in the cold air from the Runner's Soul the next morning, says he is still hoping to run 4:13. He said racing on a Friday night after being on his feet most of the day did not help when it comes to achieving maximum speed. I'd say it was a great run. Congrats!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chicago Marathon Registation Closed

When it comes to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, here is no sign of a decline in interest! The field is filled and closed. From the Bank of America Chicago Marathon people:

Registration Has Closed for the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Registration for the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon officially closed today. The 45,000-participant capacity was met in a record 31 days. A limited number of entries remain available through affiliated charities and tour groups for the October 9 race.

More than 90 of the race's affiliated charities have entries remaining for participants still looking for a way into this year's field. By registering through a charity, runners simultaneously become members of a fundraising effort that has generated nearly $60 million since 2002. For more information on entries available through the Charity Program, click here.

Chicago Marathon hopefuls living outside the U.S. also have the option to secure an entry via a number of tour operators offering travel packages that include registration to the 2011 race. For more information on late registrations available through the International Tour Group Program, click here.