Midwinter Cruise Sets Sail on Frigid Streets

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Lead runner Arturs Bareikis of Tinley Park crosses the finish line as running club President Fred Mazurski records his time. (PHOTO ENEWSPF)

Photographs: 2009 Midwinter Cruise

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Runners from the Chicagoland area and northwest Indiana braved the Sunday morning chill to run the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club’s Midwinter Cruise. A road race has its own challenges. Cover the streets with snow and ice and you have a race to remember.

Arturs Bareikis, 17, from Tinley Park ran strong, effortlessly crossing the finish line first with a finish time of 17 minutes 29 seconds. He said the course was “pretty slippery. I had to run back and forth, side to side.” Bareikis said after 800 meters he felt confident he would hold the lead, telling himself, “I’ll just run my race.”

First female runner Lyndsey Kunz, 17, of Munster, IN, commented on the snow-covered course, “In some parts it was pretty slippery, like running in sand.” Kunz said she followed the dry spots made by car tracks to garner more secure footing, “The wind kind of picked up in certain areas and got pretty chilly, but I just kind of pushed through it.”

The annual 5K race takes a double loop on some of Park Forest’s “W” streets. Runners begin traveling west from the intersection of Westgate Drive and Wilson Street, turn right on Wildwood Drive, run to Westwood Drive, and turn in again onto Westgate. After the second loop, runners turn left on Wilson Street and finish in front of Forest Trail Middle School. The Midwinter Cruise is perhaps the only race in any circuit in the Chicagoland area where every runner takes home a trophy.

One runner, Zac Sartori from Lockport, IL, decided to brave the cold and run the race in shorts, “I loved it. I love the pancakes afterwards.”

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Twins Patrick and Christian Gabriel, age 10, were the youngest participants at Sunday’s race. Their father looks on behind them. (PHOTO ENEWSPF)

A total of 114 signed up for the race and 103 showed up to run. All runners finished standing up, healthy, and shared a pancake breakfast after they crossed the finish line. The youngest participants were two 10-year-old twins, Patrick and Christian Gabriel, from Manhattan, IL.

Phil Vincek from Lansing ran the race for the first time, saying he enjoyed the race, “The course was fairly dry – a couple of rough spots,”

“It was a lot of fun. It was a little cold. The streets were a little slick,” club member Scott Borkowski from New Lenox said.

“It was a great race. It was perfect,” said David Mauger, who directed the race with Judith Wallace. “Despite pretty frigid conditions and less than desirable road surface conditions, we had great turn-out and the event was held without injury or other issue. The Village of Park Forest Police were superb and having 3 officers and cars was the pinnacle of my day, making the job of marshalling the course a whole lot easier, as well as assuring the runners would be out of harm’s way with vehicular traffic.”

Judith Wallace agreed, “I thought it was excellent. It was a beautiful day for running and [the race] had a very good turnout. I’m thrilled.” Wallace estimated the temperature at the start of the race was 18 degrees. When tracking entries, she said besides Park Forest and surrounding suburbs, there were runners from Indiana, the northern suburbs, and Chicago.

John Driscoll commented on the race over while enjoying breakfast after running the race, “Outstanding. Great weather, very well organized. Pancakes afterwards are probably the best part, though.”

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The start of the 2009 Midwinter Cruise. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Photographs: 2009 Midwinter Cruise