An otherwise perfect day for the 26th running of Oak Park’s “The Race That’s Good for Life” was marred by an electronic glitch at the finish line.

During the Women’s 5K race, the contract crew for race scoring suddenly realized that finishers’ shoe chips were not registering as runners crossed the finish line. Electronic interference from the public address system was suspected, or possibly the placement of the chip sensor mats over a manhole cover. Whatever the cause of the glitch, Women’s 5K results and some of the Youth Mile results were disrupted, with a number of lost or otherwise inaccurate finish-line records. The problem was resolved for the Men’s 5K, where all results were properly recorded.

Despite the scoring problems, the women’s race was won for the third time by Denisa Costescu, 31, of Novi, Mich. in 17:10. Costescu couldn’t make last year’s race due to the birth of daughter Alisia, now just a year old, who grinned happily from her mother’s arms as Mom accepted the winner’s prize. Constecu had also won 10K and 5K races the previous day in Michigan just before she and husband Ovidiu Olteanu (who finished 10th in the men’s race), drove to Chicago for the Oak Park event. For her it was a three-win weekend, understandably leaving her a bit tired.

Originally from Romania, the couple both coach at Marian Catholic High School in Birmingham, Mich. while maintaining an active race schedule. They enjoy returning to the Oak Park event with its attractive street course and good organization. Costescu took home the first place prize money plus an extra $50 for leading at the mid-race “Life Line” for total winnings of $250.

Second place in the women’s race went to Erin Moffett of Lake Zurich in 17:28, with Oak Park’s Colleen Newhart taking third in 17:52.

The men’s race was narrowly won by Tim Keller, of West Chicago in 14:36, only 11 seconds off the event’s all-time record. He was closely trailed by Neal Holtschulte, of Culver, Ind. (14:38) and Tinley Park’s Jeff Jonaitis (14:45), marking one of the closest overall finishes for the race. Keller’s near-record performance also earned a $100 cash bonus, payable for a new record or the time closest to the existing record. With his overall win, time bonus and Life Line lead, it was a $350 payday-not bad for less than 15 minutes of work. Top Oak Park finisher in the men’s race was Ryan Gill in 16:13.

The Youth Mile was easily won by Brooke Wolfe, 11, of Mt. Prospect in a red-hot 5:31, beating the boys and other girls alike. Boys were led by Jack Prescott, 12, of Glen Ellyn in 6:15.

Race Director Geri Bensen expressed some frustration with the results problems, noting that all preparations and other event details had gone smoothly. Even the weather cooperated after mid-week cold and snow. But snarled race results can be a race director’s worst nightmare, causing frustration to participants and major headaches for race officials who try to straighten out the results. Bensen apologized for the problems, and asked runners to email the Oak Park Runners Club with their names, race numbers and estimated finish times as a check against the re-calculated race results. Email information to Preliminary women’s results have been posted at the site, to be followed by corrected results as soon as possible, according to Bensen.

Bensen added that race awards that could not be given out on race day will be delivered to The Competitive Foot store in Downtown Oak Park as soon as corrected results are prepared.

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