Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Crowds began to gather on the streets of Park Forest before 6:30 a.m. Labor Day morning in anticipation of the inaugural running of the Park Forest Scenic 5 Mile and More.
Race enthusiasts checked-in to receive race packets and t-shirts before starting their preparation for the 8:00 a.m. run beginning at the corner of Main Street and Orchard Drive. Long-time race announcer Mel Muchnik welcomed runners to South Orchard Drive and called runners’ names as they crossed the finish line. Hundreds of area runners traded strides while enjoying favorable conditions in the lower 70s and scores of musical acts along the route.
Thirty-three year-old Julius Rotich of West Des Moines, Iowa, was the first to cross the finish with a chip time of 25:25, an official pace of 5:05 per mile. Lucie Mays-Sulewski of Westfield, Indiana was the first woman to complete the 5 mile race, with a time of 29:05; a 5:49 pace.
Director of Community Relations Crescent Muhammad enjoyed the day, “I think it’s wonderful.” Her son ran one of the children’s races, and Muhammad said she enjoyed seeing families and younger children come out for the events, “It’s that Park Forest spirit all over again.”
While some runners indicated they missed the 10 mile distance, many enjoyed the new course.
Kerensa Gwin-Johnson from Sauk Village said she enjoyed the race and the food, “I enjoyed it. I ran with three other runners, and my daughter is number one in the kids’ race today. It was quite enjoyable.” Gwin-Johnson said she appreciated the neighbors along the route who offered to spray runners with water “to cool us down.”
Dr. Mark McKeigue, a member of the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club, said he enjoyed the race and credited race director Bud James, “The course was fast, it was fun. It was well organized. Everything went well.”
Gordie Brenne traveled from Washington D.C. for the race. Brenne grew up in Park Forest and said he enjoyed the 5 mile run, “This is my 30th year of this. I liked it. It was much nicer than I thought. It was shady, the course was flat, and there was a lot of music.”
Brenne said he tried to keep up with his nephew, D.J. Erf, age 14, but Erf outdistanced him and placed first in his age group.
Several youth races that saw close to 100 kids take to Orchard Drive with friends and family looking on, providing a glimpse of future top finishers.
A 5 mile bike ride along the same course as the race and a 5k walk of the Central Park wetlands also drew participants taking part in the fun. For those who worked up an appetite by running or biking, a Food Fest provided some timely relief including pancakes, pork chop sandwiches, pizza, bratwurst, nachos, tacos, cookies, cotton candy and fruit cups.
Park Forest resident Joanna LaBelle participated in the 5 mile bike ride, said she enjoyed the course, “We knew exactly where to go. Everyone was very courteous. We had water stops. It was delightful, and I was so proud that we had all of these things going on in Park Forest."
LaBelle also won a bike tire pump at the raffle held after the awards presentation.
The Park Forest Youth Commission also presented its 9th annual Youth Day as part of the festivities.
Some kids strapped on harnesses and took turns climbing a 40 foot wall while others played chess, participated in a home run derby in Central Park and even learned new tumbling from Gainers Gymnastics. The Park Forest Commission on Human Relations was also on hand with free school supplies for parents during Youth Day.
Complete results are available here: Park Forest Scenic 5 Mile Run – 2008 Results
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