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Nothing like some nice pre-race weather to get people in the mood for an early spring race, and the warmest-ever March resulted in near record numbers signing up for the 31st running of The Race That’s Good for Life, held last Sunday, April 1. An early morning rain shower let up well before race time, leaving perfect running conditions. With over 1,300 total registrations, the races came off without a hitch.
Women’s finishing times were a bit slower than last year with Kylen Cieslak, 23, of Chicago winning the Women’s 5K in 17:58, followed by Chicago-area Runners Association Executive Director Wendy Jaehn taking second, just edging 2011 winner Columba Montez. Both women were timed in 18:03. Oak Park’s Meg Sullivan was fourth in 18:20 and Mary Blankemeier, age 12, also of Oak Park, was an impressive fifth overall in 18:27. This young lady is already an accomplished competitor.
Jaehn, 37, preparing for the upcoming Boston Marathon, says she has been putting in “lots of miles,” plus speed work, which paid off with her overall second place. She appreciated the separate 5K events, saying, “My whole family could participate and cheer for each other.” Her husband ran the Men’s 5K and her son ran the Youth Mile. Once again there were more women 5K finishers than men — 515 to 453 — reflecting the increased female participation in running events throughout the country.
Jack James of Wheaton, only 10 years old, won the Youth Mile in a speedy 5:54, with Sarah May, age 11, of Elmhurst the top girl with a 6:31.
In the Men’s 5K, Ryan Giulano of Schaumburg was 2012 champion in 15:05, followed by Oak Park and River Forest High School alumnus Mike Ptack in 15:17 and Nick Bowerman of Dubuque, Iowa in 15:26. Giulano, 27, appreciated the day’s “perfect weather and a fast course,” saying, “I love this race and I’ll be back next year.” He’s a University of Illinois grad, whose college career was hampered by injuries. Now healthy, his speed has improved and he’s one of the region’s fastest runners.
A smiling Chris Sheean, 45, a member of the Oak Park Runners Club, set a huge PR (personal record), knocking about 40 seconds off his previous best with a 19:46. “Getting under 20 minutes in the 5K is one of the items on my bucket list,” he laughed, “and to get under 20 minutes is pretty special.” Sheean also won first place in his Clydesdale weight division for bigger runners.
Race Director, Deanna Doohaluk was pleased with the event’s new sponsors, creating more of a “fest” atmosphere in the high school’s main corridor with product samples, service demonstrations and other promotional materials. Also, the 5K race walk, sponsored by Eastlake Chiropractic and Health Care, doubled its participation over last year to a hundred walkers.
A minor issue involved the event’s running on Palm Sunday, the date chosen to resolve conflicts with other regional races, and to avoid Easter Sunday. This caused a pre-race objection within the village, but the runners club will coordinate with local churches to avoid future concerns.
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