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Saturday was a big day in many ways for the 18th Annual School District 97 Fun Run held at Lindberg Park in Oak Park.

Despite the frigid early morning temperatures, the event surpassed its record of registered participants with over 200 signing up from Oliver Wendell Holmes School alone.

“No other schools throughout our school district and in the 18-year history of this district’s Fun Run has ever come close to producing as many runners from just one school,” said David Williams, a physical education teacher at Holmes and one of the event’s coordinators. “I thank our Holmes school staff for their extra effort in helping to make sure our boys and girls continue to be leaders and ambassadors for good health and fitness in our school district.”

Another historical moment came at the conclusion of the mile run when Mary Blankemeier became the first female to win the event. The Holmes fifth grader finished way ahead of the pack with a time of 6:34, 23 seconds off the record of 6:11 run by Daniel Bevan last year.

“It was really fun and exciting,” said Blankemeier. “I just figured I’d place. I didn’t really think I’d win.”

Blankemeier, who also plays soccer and basketball, said she’s going to stick with running.

“It’s fun because you can get things off your mind when you run, and just kind of space out,” she added.

Blankemeier, who also defeated a few junior high school athletes in Saturday’s race, currently holds the mile indoor record. She ran to a time of 6:17 last month, breaking Elias El Metennani’s record of 6:41.

“Mary just blew past everyone today. She’s going to have quite a future in this sport,” said Williams, who has been helping coordinate the Fun Run for the last 11 years. “It’s great to see history made and have such a great turnout.”

Holmes second grader Danny Lingen finished first in the half mile with a time of 4:21.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...