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  • Writer's pictureJames Diamond

Big Shake Ups as the Spring Comes to a Close

Updated: Jun 3

This recap covers both Good Life and Spring Trail Chase.

 

Heading into Good Life 6 of the 9 categories were being led by undefeated teams. After Good Life, 0 teams remained with an undefeated record. The shake up continued with Spring Trail Chase, one of the few 10k’s on the Circuit and the only trail race. After Spring Trail Chase 8 categories now have new leaders!



All Around Standings: 

(Combined Gender, Age Graded Scoring, Top 5 Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Evanston Running Club- 826.9

Evanston Running Club- 40 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team- 819.7

DWRunning- 36 points

CARA Racing Team- 801.9

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team- 35 points

It’s not unusual to see Evanston near the top of All Around results. However, this victory was unique, as they were able to overcome the field without relying on their heavy hitting Nancy Rollins. Evanston was led by Daniel Lennington’s season debut time of 16:08 and age graded score of 877. With such a phenomenal low stick Evanston’s usual crew of Holzmueller, Wolf, Amaro, and Liener were able to go runner-to-runner against Fast Track and take the win. This performance now moves Evanston into the lead.


Although Fast Track suffered a loss against Evanston, the 2023 runner-ups have reasserted themselves as a threat for the 2024 season. Fast Track’s age graded scores at Shamrock and Lakefront 10 were 786 and 762 respectively. At Good Life, they improved to a team score of 819. Fast Track’s strength last year was in the shorter distance races in the suburbs. It looks like they plan to run the same playbook this year. However, with Evanston’s big guns up front, Fast Track will need to focus on building up their already impressive depth. Fast Track’s performance helped them climb the depth charts and position themselves firmly in the top 3.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

Evanston Running Club - 836.9

Evanston Running Club - 55

CARA Racing Team - 775.1

CARA Racing Team - 49

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 772.9

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 48

At Spring Trail Chase, Evanston once again topped the field. Unlike at Good Life, Rollins did race. Rollins performance scored an 889, meanwhile Lennington took care of business, finishing second overall with a time of 34:06 and a score of 849.


CARA Racing Team’s 2nd place performance at Spring Trail Chase was enough to leapfrog Fast Track and put themselves in second place in the category. CARA was led by newcomer Ken Schuch, whose 40:16 scored a 789. The battle between Fast Track and CARA was tight


Rose: XMFT- 800

Schuch: CARA- 789

Jeromin: XMFT- 782

Sweney: XMFT- 780

Ozdogru: CARA- 777

Barrett: CARA- 769

Harvey-Hill: CARA- 766

PRzybyla: XMFT- 763

Leahy: CARA- 763

Cira: XMFT- 737


It was CARA’s 5th runner, Megan Leahy who was able to save the second place finish. The competition between these two teams was so close, it would have only taken a single runner running 10 seconds faster or slower to flip the result.


Open Men Standings: 

(Top 5 Men Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 17:19

CARA Racing Team - 40 points

CARA Racing Team - 17:33

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 38 points

Evanston Running Club - 19:15

DWRunning - 36 points

DW came into Good Life on a two race winning streak. However, they did not bring a significant presence to challenge the team competition. This left room for Fast Track and CARA to duke it out for first place.


Fast Track was able to win the day with a dynamic 1-2-3 punch with Yoon Oh’s 16:33, Sebastian Ramirez Wiener’s 16:39, and Ivan Yank’s 16:42. For a 750-person race, a single runner in the mid-16:30s is usually great, to have 3 on the same team pull it off is truly impressive. This victory was enough to move them up the standings from third place overall to second place in the category. 


CARA Racing Team was led by low stick Dan Pettit, whose 15:59 gave him a 3rd place finish overall. CARA’s gap of Pettit’s 15:59 to number two runner James Diamond’s 16:50 was what allowed Fast Track to secure victory. Although this was a second place finish, CARA Racing Team moved into first place in the division. This was due to their consistent team placings of 4th-2nd-2nd against Fast Track’s 6th-3rd-1st. 


Daniel Lennington’s 16:08 was enough to anchor Evanston to a 3rd place finish.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

CARA Racing Team - 38:20

CARA Racing Team - 55 points

Evanston Running Club - 38:28

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 51 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 39:28

Evanston Running Club - 48 points

At Good Life, CARA Racing Team was able to move into 1st place in the standings without yet winning a race. No team has ever won the Circuit without winning at least 1 race. This made it all the more important when CARA secured their first win of the season. They were led by JD Barrett’s 34:18 for 3rd and Pettit’s 34:42 for 6th. They were supported by CARA’s Master’s Men squad of  Ken Schuch, Ryan Curry, and Kennth Jensen, who ran 40:16, 40:47, and 41:37 respectively. 


Evanston finished in a close second place to CARA. Lennington once again excelled as a low stick with his 34:06 for 2nd place. Their depth was solid with Chris Wolf (36:20), Aaron Barnhart (39:05), Nathan Holtzmueller (39:41), and Keith Holtzmueller (43:09). The strong performance of their middle pack not only granted them a podium spot on the day, but was enough to knock DW off of the top-3 position.


Open Women Standings: 

(Top 5 Women Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

CARA Racing Team - 19:58

CARA Racing Team - 39 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 22:32

DWRunning - 38 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 25:51

Oak Park Runners Club - 35 points

Fleet Feet X New Balance Racing Team - 35 points

With DW not bringing its full team, CARA Racing Team was able to take a dominant position over the field. Their victory also allowed them to leapfrog DW and move to first place in the season standings. CARA’s defining characteristic in this category has been maintaining a tight spread. This would have been the case again if not for Brittney Burmester’s racing team debut, running an 18:42, finishing as the 4th overall female. She was followed up by Megan Leahy, Evance Stalley, Erika Edmonson, and Maggie Fain, these four all came in between 19:50 to 20:54. 


At their home race, Oak Park Runners Club was able to defend their castle well by not only securing a second place finish, but also placing them in a dead heat with Fleet Feet X New Balance Racing Team in the season standings. Oak Park secured a clean second place finish over Fast Track with only one of Fast Track’s top runners being able to break up Oak Park’s top-5 scorers. Oak Park’s scorers Julie Blankemeier, Kristin Otto, Katie Poor, Emily Cupito, and Linda Frederick were led by Fredrick’s strong 20:43 performance.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

CARA Racing Team - 43:32

CARA Racing Team - 54 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 1:00:45

DWRunning - 49 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 1:08:38

Oak Park Runners - 49 points

Just like the men, the women of the CARA Racing Team were able to leverage a home field advantage. However, unlike the men’s nail biting victory, the women were able to claim a definitive victory for their team. For the first time this season, Ashley Turner led the CARA team across the finish line with a 4th place finish and a time of 41:29. Megan Leahy has now become the team’s reliable number 2 runner, finishing in 42:42. Evance Stally, Ashley Bruner, and Erika Edmonson rounded out the top-5 with all women running 45:00 or faster.


Xtra Mile did not have the front runners to deal with Oak Park, but they brought a full squad. Fast Track was led by one of their consistent performers with Erica Alasari’s 47:05. However, this group consisted of runners who normally wouldn’t get the chance to score for Fast Track’s open team such as Barb McGovern, Pamela Kowalczyk, Heather Hayes, and Amanda Hamilton. The cherry on top for these women is that their effort on that day was enough to finish second place, their highest team finish of the season yet. 


Although Oak Park was held back by only fielding a team of 4 runners, they were still able to hang on to 3rd place and score the points necessary to knock Fleet Feet out of the top 3. 


Masters Men Standings: 

(Top 3 Men Ages 40+ Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Evanston Running Club - 17:50

Evanston Running Club - 41 points

CARA Racing Team - 18:41

DW Running - 39 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 18:44

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 38 points

Between Evanston, CARA, and Fast Track, these would have all seemed like comparable teams. However, there’s one man who breaks all ties, and that’s Daniel Lennington. His 16:08 allowed his team to easily sail to victory. Evanston’s win allowed them to surpass DW and move into first place.


CARA and Fast Track battled for the second place position. Fast Track’s Volker Rose finished ahead of every CARA runner in this category. However, CARA’s team lives and dies by its tight spreads as Phillip Stalley, Ryan Curry, and Adam Dabrowski all finished within 30 seconds of each other. Good enough to put space on Fast Track’s number 3 runner and secure a second place finish for CARA.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

Evanston Running Club - 36:30

Evanston Running Club - 56 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 38:18

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing - 55 points

CARA Racing Team - 40:53

DWRunning - 48 points

When you look up “putting the team on your back” in the dictionary, you will find a picture of DANIEL LENNINGTON. Lennington was Evanston’s primary scorer across 3 divisions over two weekends. His performance once again allowed his team to sail to an unchallenged victory.


Fast Track’s Matthew Jeromin was able to split up Evanston’s Lennington and Chris Wolf. While Volker Rose and Frank Cira were able to both finish in front of CARA’s top runner. Fast Track is now only 1 point away from first place in this division. Consistency has gotten them to this place with their four team finishes being 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, & 2nd. Racing like this will secure them a podium spot for sure by the end of the year, but it is now mathematically impossible for them to claim victory in the division without securing at least a few outright victories.


Masters Women Standings: 

(Top 3 Women Ages 40+ Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

CARA Racing Team - 20:05

CARA Racing Team - 42 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 21:42

DWRunning - 40 points

Evanston Running Club - 23:34

Oak Park Runners - 36 points

CARA Racing Team secured their first victory of the season at Good Life after a 3rd place finish at Shamrock and a 2nd place finish at Lakefront 10. Megan Leahy led with a time of 19:50, followed by Evance Stalley’s 19:56 and Erika Edmonson’s 20:29. This was a perfect sweep with all three finishing ahead of any other team’s number 1 runner. The victory gave CARA a slight lead in the category over DW in the season standings.


Oak Park’s 2nd place finish was an important return to form after recovering from a 7th place finish at the Shamrock Shuffle put them in a “catch up” position. The usual suspects of Linda Frederick, Emily Cupito, and Kristin Otto put on a strong display against Evanston. This second place finish granted them a slight points lead over Evanston and put them on the podium for the season's standings for now.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

CARA Racing Team - 42:39

CARA Racing Team - 57 points

Oak Park Runners - 55:09

Oak Park Runners Club - 50 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 56:26

DWRunning - 48 points

With another victory under their belt, the CARA Racing Team has become a problem for the rest of this category. They are now the only team in this category to finish in the top-3 for every race of the season, two of them being victories. This has created a 7-point score differential between 1st and 2nd place in the season standings, the largest differential in the Circuit so far this season.


Although 7 points is the largest lead so far, Fleet Feet, Oak Park, and DW can easily close that gap in one or two races if they have a good race or CARA stumbles. Only a team’s top-8 scores count. So for teams like DW and Fleet Feet who haven’t sent their full squad to some of these races, they have the potential claim outright victories later in the season, drop their lower placings, and rocket to the top.


Veteran Men Standings: 

(Top 3 Men Ages 50+ Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 19:11

DWRunning - 40 points

Evanston Running Club - 20:06

Evanston Running Club - 40 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 20:10

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 37 points

Volker Rose was a scorer for Fast Track in the All Around, Open Men, Masters Men, and finally the Veteran Men’s category. In each category he either secured or supported a top-3 finish for his team at Good Life. His team’s victory was secured thanks to excellent performance from Frank Cira (18:43) and Jason Moderi (20:47). Importantly, this was the team’s first victory of the season, placing them in the top 3 for the category.


Oak Park and Evanston battled it out for second place, with their team average being separated by only 4 seconds. When these two team’s clash, it’s a classic battle of depth versus low stick, with Evanston having a strong number 1 and Oak Park having a tight spread from 1-3. At Shamrock, Evanston took the win, but at Lakefront 10 it was Oak Park’s depth that brought the win. On this day Chris Wolf’s 17:25 was the definition of dominance, almost 2:00 ahead of Oak Park’s Richard Vigsnes. 


This second place performance moved Evanston into a tied position for first place with DW.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

Evanston Running Club - 39:31

Evanston Running Club - 55 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 41:01

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing - 51 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 43:02

DWRunning - 49 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 49 point

Not only did Evanston bring their top man, Chris Wolf, but for the first time that we’ve seen this season, they also had the top number 3 man in the category. Keith Holtzmueller was Evanston’s 3rd runner, and was able to hold off Fast Track’s Brian Sweney and Oak Park’s David Schaub, both teams’ respective 3rd runners. Evanston will win or lose based on their 3rd runner, and Holtzmueller played a critical role in securing the victory.


Fast Track was able to cruise to a win thanks to their dynamic duo of Volker Rose and Frank Cira with Brian Sweney keeping Oak Park’s number 3 runner at bay. 


After Evanston’s victory, they’ve moved up the standings, while Fast Track continues to climb from 3rd to 2nd. Although Oak Park hasn’t been able to secure an outright win in the competition, they have been able to beat all of these teams at least once so far this season. They remain in striking range of a team championship as they move into 3rd place in the season standings, tied with DW.


Veteran Women Standings: 

(Top 3 Women Ages 50+ Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Evanston Running Club - 23:34

Evanston Running Club - 41 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 24:07

Oak Park Runners Club - 41 points

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 27:07

CARA Racing Team - 40 point


For the first time this season, Evanston was able to secure a team victory in a tight battle against Oak Park. 






Evanston

Oak Park

Maria

Amaro

21:29

Kristin

Otto

23:16

Melinda

Poulton

24:19

Julie

Blankemeier

24:22

Corrine

Johnson

24:45

Renee

Valentine

24:44

Both teams’ 2 & 3 runners were almost exact parity. For Evanston, this worked out perfectly, as Maria Amaro was able to be their front runner, while Poulton and Johnson battled Blankemeier and Valentine over the entire 5k course. Their victory moved them into first place with Oak Park, tied at 41 points.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

CARA Racing Team - 1:14:09

Evanston Running Club - 55 points

Evanston Running Club - 1:15:45

Oak Park Runners Club - 54 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 1:22:35

CARA Racing Team - 54 points

With the race sold out, no team was able to bring the 3 runners needed to maximize their score in this division. As usual Evanston had the top finisher in the division with Maria Amaro’s 47:59. However, the win was decided by CARA’s Unsal Ozdogru and Libby Harvey-Hill finishing in front of Evanston’s number 2 runner. CARA’s victory moved them into a tie for second place only behind 1st by a single point. 


This is the tightest competition on the Circuit right now, and the teams will likely have to fight tooth and nail through November before it’s clear who the best is. 


Senior Men Standings: 

(Top 3 Men Ages 60+ Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Elmhurst Running Club - 21:10

Oak Park Runners Club - 44

Oak Park Runners Club - 22:02

Evanston Running Club - 41

Evanston Running Club - 22:35

Elmhurst Running Club - 41

Elmhurst’s senior men were the fortunate beneficiaries of a birthday, which moved Carlos Viramontes into the senior division. Viramontes was Elmhurst’s second runner behind Mark Woodcock and ahead of David Hensley. Impressively, this trio all finished within 40 seconds of each other, one of the tightest teams at Good Life. 


Elmhurst’s victory was important as it broke their streak of third place finishes while also breaking Evanston’s winning streak. With these shake ups the category has gotten a lot more interesting. 


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing - 45:12

Oak Park Runners Club - 57 points

Elmhurst Running Club - 45:14

Elmhurst Running Club - 55 points

Oak Park Runners Club - 46:39

Evanston Running Club - 53 points

Where did Fast Track come from?!? Fast Track finished 4th at Shamrock and Good Life and no scored at Lakefront 10. Fast Track has always had talent, but this was the day where they were able to bring the band together. They were led by Circuit Hall of Famer Brian Sweney’s 43:59, followed by Mark Przybyla 44:32, and Jim Brinlee’s 47:05. While this didn’t significantly improve Fast Track’s standings in the short term they have now entered the conversation as a team to watch!


Elmhurst kept it close with Fast Track through a very tight spread of Woodcock, Hensley, and Viramontes running 44:14, 45:22, & 46:06 respectively. Their second place finish allowed them to pull away from Evanston in the standings by a few points and move them closer to Oak Park, who remains stubbornly in first place.



Senior Women Standings: 

(Top 3 Women Ages 60+ Score Per Team)

Good Life Results

Season Standings

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 29:37

Oak Park Runners Club - 41

Oak Park Runners Club - 30:42

Evanston Running Club - 39

CARA Racing Team - 56:50

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 39

Good life saw a tight battle between Fast Track and Oak Park, where Fast Track eventually came out on top, moving them into the podium position in the season standings for the first time this season. Fast Track was led by team captain Grace Wasielewski’s 24:22. Grace's performance was the fastest by a senior woman on the day. Teammate Barb McGovern’s 29:43 finished ahead of Oak Park’s number 2 runner and Jennifer Hill ran parity with Oak’s Park’s number 3.


Although Oak Park was not able to capture the victory, their consistent performances this season did move them into first place in the season standings.


Spring Trail Chase

Season Standings

Oak Park Runners Club - 1:22:35

Oak Park Runners Club - 56 points

Lake Shore Racing Club - 1:31:23

Evanston Running Club - 50 points

CARA Racing Team - 1:39:40

Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team - 49 points

Consistency has been the name of the game for Oak Park, and it paid off big at Spring Trail Chase. No senior women’s teams brought a full squad of scoring 3 women. Because of this, the participating teams had a “ghost runner” assigned a finishing time of 2:04:00. In a competition where showing up was half of the battle, Eileen Dolan and Isola Metz did an excellent job holding down the fort and securing Oak Park’s first victory in this category. Oak Park has now emerged as the clear leader at the top of the most consistent performance list. Their team has so far finished 2-3-2-1 at the first 4 races of the season. This consistency is rewarded in a category filled with wildcard performances.


Speaking of wildcard performances, Lake Shore Racing club finished runner-up at Spring Trail Chase. This is the senior women’s first time ever finishing in the top-3 in a Circuit race. The team was helped with the addition of Delma Bartelme who was the team's top runner, followed by Circuit veteran Janet Julien. The team currently sits in 4th place in the season standings with 48 points. If this team can find a reliable 3rd runner they could be a serious threat to the podium.


Final Thoughts

As we come out of the Spring Season, every division remains a toss up. Only one team, Oak Park’s senior men, were able to hold onto their first place position after Good Life and Spring Trail Chase. However, even in this division, 4 teams remain in contention for the win as Oak Park’s point lead on their competition has been slowly eroded.


Up next is “The Gauntlet”: 3 races, 3 Sundays in a row. Run for the Rose 5k, Bank of America Chicago 13.1, and Race Against Hate 5k. How will teams tackle this challenge? Will they separate their long distance and mid-distance squads, will they focus on only 1 or 2 of the races, or will they try to put points on the board at all 3 races? Only time will tell!


Important Links:


Join a team, follow the schedule, and check standings at cararuns.org/circuit


Support the Circuit, get discounts, earn individual points: become a CARA Member.



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