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  • Writer's pictureJames Diamond

Circuit Update: First Victory Secured Before World Major

The Lawndale 5k was a newcomer to the Circuit this year. Being a week before the Chicago Marathon it might have slid under some teams’ radar. However, the suburban teams used that to their advantage and made some big last-minute moves before the Chicago Marathon.

The Oak Park Runners Club veteran women (50+) stole the show! They secured the win at Lawndale which also solidified their first place position in their division. It is now mathematically impossible for them to be dislodged from first place. Geri Bensen led the way with a 23:11, followed by Julie Blankemeier at 24:43, and Maribeth Fromm at 27:04. Oak Park achieved their division win by claiming seven victories across Lawndale, Good Life Race 5k, Spring Trail Chase, Race Against Hate, 4 On The 4th, PUMA’s Chi-Town Miles, Alpine 10 Miler, and a second place finish at the Shamrock Shuffle. This team won due to its deep roster. In total, 7 athletes participated in scoring those victories. In addition to those mentioned above, Kristin Otto, Eileen Dolan, Ann Ryan, and Jane Murphy contributed to the multiple team victories.

Combined Division

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

There’s a new number one in the combined division. After a long season of chasing Evanston Running Club’s coat tails, Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team has taken the lead. This team hit a turning point after 4 On The 4th. In six of their first seven head to heads, Fast Track lost to Evanston. The script has now flipped as Fast Track has beaten Evanston in five of their last six clashes. Fast Track now has a 1 point lead on Evanston, 114 to 113. DW Running remains in 3rd place with 112 points, as most of their runners seem to have sat out of this race to prepare for the Chicago Marathon.

Victories have been so spread out in this division that the first team to 117 will be crowned the victor. Fast Track, Evanston, and DW all have a path to 117. However, if DW wins the Chicago Marathon the division is settled, dropping their 6th place finish at Spring Trail Chase and giving them 7 team victories, a score of 117, and an insurmountable lead. Fast Track and Evanston will need to hold off DW if they want to remain in the hunt through the end of the season.

Open Men

(Top 5 Men Score Per Team)

Fast Track has expanded their lead on the field. They currently lead DW 117 to 110. Both teams have 5 wins under their belt, however, Fast Track’s consistency has maintained their first place standing. Fast Track has finished in the top three in all but one circuit race, while DW has “no scored” at some of the smaller races. Fast Track currently has a commanding lead on the division, however, they can’t relax. DW still has a path to a 120 perfect score and Fast Track’s strategy requires them to continue taking big shots at every race on the circuit to hold off challengers.

Evanston’s 4th place finish was enough to improve their team score to 107. Unfortunately, they needed a top 3 finish to remain competitive for the championship. With a score cap of 116, they no longer have a path to victory.

Oak Park hasn’t been getting a lot of love in this division, but a narrative of the silent hunter is building. They finished 3rd at Lawndale and are on a three race winning streak against Evanston. If Oak Park can keep this momentum alive, they may play upset for a top 3 division finish.

Open Women

(Top 5 Women Score Per Team)

Oak Park has rejoined the battle for the team title. Oak Park was able to pull off an upset by winning the Lawndale 5k, led by Erika Edmonson’s 21:33 and supported by the depth of their previously mentioned veteran women’s squad. No other team in this division brought the necessary firepower to challenge Oak Park’s victory.

Because of this upset, Fleet Feet x New Balance Racing Team was not able to extend their lead and is now tied with DW at 112 points. Even after Oak Park’s dominant performance, Fast Track remained only 1 point behind them in the standings after finishing runner up at Lawndale. Oak Park leads Fast Track 110 to 109.

As for the path to victory, Fleet Feet has held their ground with their 112 score, but their cap has now dropped to 117. DW also sits at 112, however, with 6 wins under their belt they only need one more victory to secure the division, and two victories to achieve a perfect 120 score. With 3 races to go, Fleet Feet will need to bring their very best to hold on to the win. Oak Park and Fast Track still have a path to victory with score caps of 117 and 116 respectively.

Master Men

(Top 3 Men Ages 40+ Score Per Team)

Fast Track has once again improved their team score by +1 to 116 as Matthew Jeromin’s 17:07 was enough to lead his team to victory. This victory helped put some daylight between themselves and second place DW (113 point), who did not field a team to challenge this division at Lawndale. Evanston finished 4th place at Lawndale, which wasn’t enough to help them improve on their 111 team score.

Digging into the potential of these teams, Fast Track’s four team victories have maintained their score cap of 119, DW still has a path to 120, and Evanston’s score cap has fallen to 117. With Evanston also having two victories under their belt this season, the battle for first place remains an open question.

Masters Women

(Top 3 Women Ages 40+ Score Per Team)

For the second race in a row, there has been an upset in the masters women’s division. Last time DW upset top ranked Fleet Feet for the win; this time Oak Park took the W with Fleet Feet finishing 2nd. Fast Track finished 3rd on the day. However, even with the upset, a second place finish was good enough to improve on Fleet Feet’s overall score, as second place allowed them to drop their 4th place finish at Hidden Gem and boost their score to 112.

With the same narrative as last week, Oak Park remains only one point behind with 111. Fast Track was also able to improve their score. With scoring caps of 118, 117, and 116 respectively, it’s anyone’s circuit to win at this point.

Veteran Men

(Top 3 Men Ages 50+ Score Per Team)

Fast Track was once again upset, this time by Oak Park. However, this turned out to be good fortune for Fast Track.

Heading into Lawndale, Fast Track had a team score of 117. Evanston seemed to be the only team capable of reaching the 118 needed to beat Fast Track outright. With Evanston finishing 4th at Lawndale, they were unable to erase their 4th place finish at Spring Trail Chase. This dropped them to third in the standings and lowered their score cap to 116. Oak Park is now in second place, but has a score cap of only 115, locking them out of contention for the victory as well.

However, a dark horse remains in this division as the only team mathematically capable of surpassing Fast Track, is DW. DW currently sits in 5th place in the division with 3 team wins on their record. DW has a score cap of 117. If achieved, it would grant them the win on a tie breakers- giving them 6 wins against Fast Track’s 5. However, this will require everything to go perfect for DW. Even with odds like these, it’s still too early to call the winner for this division!

Veteran Women

(Top 3 Women Ages 50+ Score Per Team)

Oak Park has finalized their position in first place with a score of 119 and 7 team victories.

The battle for the podium continues between Evanston, Fleet Feet, and Fast Track. Of the three, Fast Track emerged victorious finishing second place at Lawndale, increasing their team score from 104 to 107. A major points gain this late in the season! With a few more 4th places to drop from their score and the talent to win races outright, Fast Track has re-emerged as a real headache for Evanston and Fleet Feet.

Evanston did not bring runners to Lawndale, leaving their score unchanged at 110. Fleet Feet’s 4th place finish at Lawndale was not enough to improve their 109 team score. Fast Track has closed ground but remains in 4th place overall.

Senior Men

(Top 3 Men Ages 60+ Score Per Team)

Oak Park dominated the competition, led by Eugene Callaghan’s 21:33 and complemented by a tight spread between their 2-3 runners Rainer Schochat and Terrence Keleher. Elmhurst Running Club was the only team that brought a force deep enough to challenge Oak Park, but with only David Hensley’s 21:53 able to break up the Oak Park trio, Elmhurst was forced to settle for second place.

Evanston did not bring the full force of its club to help defend its first place standing. After the dust settled, Evanston remains in 1st with a score of 116, Oak Park’s victory granted them +2 points and a total score of 115, Elmhurst added +1 to their score bringing them to 112... granting them a comfortable 8 point lead on 4th place that can let them focus on teams in front of them instead of simply protecting their podium position.

Senior Women

(Top 3 Women Ages 60+ Score Per Team)

Fleet Feet took the win at Lawndale, led by Angelica Guerrero's 21:47. 6th ranked CARA Racing Crew pulled off an upset as they achieved their highest finish of the season, finishing second place at Lawndale, led by Julie Gross’ 24:59.

Fleet Feet is poised to take the win in this division. With Fleet Feet's score of 117, which only Evanston is capable of matching if they can win every race from now on. That would result in a tie between the teams that would need to go down to second place finishes by each team to sort out the winner.

While this outcome would be exciting, it’s unlikely. Fleet Feet has a 6 point lead on Evanston. A sizable gap this late into the season. Evanston is capable of beating Fleet Feet head to head, but it would require bringing their full roster to bear for every race going forward. Fast Track and Oak Park are still battling it out for a podium finish with scores of 108 and 107 respectively.

Looking Forward

As we wait for points to be tabulated from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, teams are already prepping for the penultimate race of the season, Lake Bluff PTO Pumpkin Chase 5k! Expect new champions to be announced in the coming weeks, as nearly every team will be jumping into the action across the marathon and 5k distances to squeeze out their final points of the season.

Helpful Links

Learn more about the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit

Results for the Lawndale 5k


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