At its annual awards banquet in early December the Oak Park Runners Club recognized ten club members who were honored for their 2014 running accomplishments.
Topping the list again was Doris Schertz, for whom the club created a special "Continuing Champion" award so that a few others could also receive recognition. Doris has dominated her age group for years, and is now in the 75-79 division which admittedly doesn't have much competition. But she also outruns those in younger age groups, and has been a top senior runner, nationally, for years. She is also a previous age-group winner at the Chicago and Boston Marathons.
Runner of the Year honors went to Stacia Taylor and Mike Brosilow. Taylor has won her age group in the Chicago area for several years, and this year returned from injury (last year she was hit by a car while running) to do it once again. Brosilow has only been running for seven years, but made major strides this year, setting numerous PRs (personal records) starting with the Boston Marathon and extending to everything from 5K through half-marathon. And in October he bested his Boston time with an impressive 3:03 at the Chicago Marathon. He also finished second in his 55-59 age group in the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) standings.
Most Improved Runner awards went to Jessica Clement, Ken Kansa and Werner Sabo. Clement, who ran 3 marathons this year – significantly faster each time -- knocked a total of 40 minutes off her 2013 best. And at the other end of the race distance spectrum she was overall women's winner at the Rock & Roll 5K in Downtown Chicago. Kansa set PRs all year ranging from 8K through the marathon, and capped his season overseas with a new PR at the Berlin Marathon. Werner Sabo set a major PR in the half marathon, and ran three marathons in 2014, with new PRs in each one.
Significant Achievement Awards went to Stephanie Kliethermes, Eileen Skisak, Jack Zalewski and Mike Butler. Kliethermes ran everything from 5K to 50 miles, and was overall women's winner in both a 5K and a 50K (31 miles). Eileen Skisak who has run an amazing 70 races this year, won her 55-59 age group in most of them, and in a few cases was first woman overall. She also was CARA age group champion for the year. Jack Zalewski, an avid ultra-runner (distances beyond the marathon), raced three 50Ks, two 50 Milers, an 8-hour race (covering over 44 miles), and a 100 Miler. And with a completely different focus, Mike Butler at age 44 focused on shorter, faster track competitions, posting race times of 4:46 for 1500 meters and 5:11 for the mile.
With Oak Park Runners Club members ranging in age from teens to late 80s and racing at distances from 1500 meters to 100 miles, the annual job of selecting year-end awards is always tough. But that wide range of ages and running preferences certainly makes an interesting group.
Paul Oppenheim is a member of the Oak Park Runners Club, who received a Most Improved Runner award many years ago.
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