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  • Writer's pictureJames Diamond

Upsets at Hidden Gem Half Sets up Showdown at Chicago Marathon

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

With the half marathon distance at The Hidden Gem, upsets were on the docket. The majority of circuit races are 10k or shorter. Hidden Gem offered a rare opportunity for clubs’ long-distance squads to shake things up, and they did not disappoint. DWRunning was once again the main spoiler across divisions; however, a few other teams were able to use their marathoners to sneak in some unexpected finishes.

Combined Division

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

Evanston Running Club still leads the division after The Hidden Gem. However, their 3rd place finish wasn’t enough to improve their team score of 113. They now have Xtra Mile Fast Track Racing Team and DWRunning right behind them with a tie for second at 112 points.

Fast Track finished second place on the day, with DW taking the team victory, led by Dave Walter’s impressive 895 Age Graded performance. In fact, DW was able to put its entire scoring 5 ahead of Fast Track’s top scorer in the age-graded competition.

Fleet Feet x New Balance did not move up in the team standings, however, they aren't out of the running yet. With a score cap of 114 and heavy hitters on the individual side like Angelica Guerrero they remain a team still in the hunt.

Open Men

(Top 5 Men Score Per Team)

Fast Track remains on top, as their second place finish at Hidden Gem was enough to increase their team score to 116, led by Yoon Oh’s 1:15:51. DW has been aggressively climbing the Open Men’s standings for the past couple of weeks. They now sit in second place after they won the Hidden Gem. They were led by Brendan McDowell’s 1:09:36, who was complemented by their whole top 5 finishing under 1:18:00. Evanston’s 5th place finish at Hidden Gem did not help their team score. They currently sit in 3rd place, 5 points up on Oak Park Runners Club.

Open Women

(Top 5 Women Score Per Team)

Every podium competitor ran well enough to add to their team score this week. Fleet Feet remains in the lead. Their second place finish at Hidden Gem, led by Mary Styzek’s 1:31:43, was enough to improve their score by 2 points, taking them to 112. However, DW’s victory at the Hidden Gem catapulted them from 4th place into 2nd with 110 points. DW still has a path to 120, only needing to win 2 of the next 4 races; meanwhile, Fleet Feet suffers from a score cap of 118. DW’s improvement pushed Oak Park down to 3rd and Fast Track into 4th. It will be a cutthroat battle for a top 3 finish as only 1 point separates Oak Park and Fast Track.

Masters Men

(Top 3 Men Ages 40+ Score Per Team)

Fast Track remained in first place, and their second place finish at Hidden Gem was enough to bump up their team score by one point (115). DW took the team victory, led by Ben Bocher’s incredible sub-70 minute performance. DW now sits at 113, with a clear path to 120. Fast Track’s score cap now sits at 119, however, they also have a clear path to victory. Fast Track has remained competitive by dominating local suburban races, while DW has scored well at city races. Two city and two suburban races remain on the calendar, making it anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top. Evanston now sits comfortably in 3rd.

Masters Women

(Top 3 Women Ages 40+ Score Per Team)

Hidden Gem was a major day for upsets in this division as 5th ranked DW pulled off their first team win of the season, with their top 3 averaging an eye popping 1:23:56; and previously 4th ranked Fast Track pulling off a runner up performance, increasing their team score from 104 to 108.

These upsets locked Fleet Feet and Oak Park out of scoring this week. The top 3 teams are only separated by a point each (Fleet Feet 110, Oak Park 109, Fast Track 108). Evanston has slipped into 4th place with 105 points. While that might seem like a significant gap, Evanston was able to topple all of these teams at the Race Against Hate 5k. 3 of the last 4 races on the Circuit are 5k’s, which plays into the hands of their top trio of Werner, Azari, and Rogers.

Veteran Men

(Top 3 Men Ages 50+ Score Per Team)

DW once again played upset, taking the team victory at Hidden Gem, however, that wasn’t enough to move them out of their 5th place standing. Unlike the master’s women, this upset did not stop Fast Track from expanding their lead on the competition, in no small part thanks to Frank Cira’s 1:20:28 performance. With a score of 117, Fast Track only needs to win one more race to secure victory in this division.

Evanston sits in second place and was not able to improve their point total from Hidden Gem. With a points ceiling of 118 they need to fully shutout Fast Track over the next 4 races to secure victory. Although Evanston still leads Oak Park in the circuit standings, Oak Park was able to defeat Evanston at Hidden Gem, putting them only 2 points behind second place.

Veteran Women

(Top 3 Women Ages 50+ Score Per Team)

Drama in the women’s veteran division! Coming into this race Evanston was ranked 3rd, never once being able to topple Oak Park, who was fresh off of a 4 race winning streak. Evanston’s Trio of Catherine Way, Maria Amaro, & Ji Hwang were able to average 1:48:17, edging out Oak Park’s 1:51:14. For their efforts, Evanston was awarded 3 valuable points, which moved them into second place with a score of 110.

Oak Park remains the clear leader with 118 points. Evanston won the race, but Fleet Feet remains the only team with a score cap capable of catching Oak Park. Although Fleet Feet’s 3rd place finish at Hidden Gem was enough to improve their team score by one point, to 109, the highest score they can hope to reach is 119 this season.

An interesting dynamic has emerged in this division, where Evanston is beating Fleet Feet, but no longer has a path to win the Circuit, since their score cap is 117. Meanwhile, Fleet Feet sits in 3rd place, but remains the only team left in the division mathematically capable of overtaking Oak Park to win the division.

This division is in its end game. The Chicago Marathon will be a true championship race for these teams.

Senior Men

(Top 3 Men Ages 60+ Score Per Team)

Top ranked Evanston took the win at Hidden Gem in a tight battle with #2 ranked Oak Park. Oak Park put up a strong fight with a stellar performance from Michael Brosilow who ran a 1:27:27. However, it was Evanston’s depth that won the day as their trio of Keith Holzmueller, Rob Schnieders, and Michael Cope were able to keep the team average under 1:42:00 compared to Oak Park’s 1:46:00.

This is one of the most fractured divisions, with 4 teams collecting 2 or more victories. Due to the parody of the teams in this division, it’s unlikely that any team is going to reach a 120 score. Evanston sits at 116, Oak Park at 113, and Elmhurst Running Club at 111. Fast Track’s 5th place finish at Hidden Gem was enough to eliminate their “no score” from Race Against Hate, boosting their score by 11 and taking them to 108. Fast Track’s men have 2 wins so far this season and have dominated the Northwest suburbs… with two Northwest suburban races remaining they should not be counted out just yet.

Senior Women

(Top 3 Women Ages 60+ Score Per Team)

Fleet Feet pulled off a dominant win at Hidden Gem with Angelica Guerrero and Kayoko Hamamura running 1:41 and 1:47 respectively, which was a 1-2 finish in their division. This performance gave their team a 2 point score boost, further solidifying their top spot in the team standings with a score of 116. Evanston remains in second place with 111. Tied for 3rd are Oak Park and Fast Track at 106.

Evanston’s consistency has kept them in contention, but with only 2 wins so far they will need a few outright victories to catch Fleet Feet. While Oak Park is behind in the points, they are tied with Fleet Feet in wins, each at 4. It’s been Fleet Feet’s top end strength and it’s consistency which has separated them from the rest of this division thus far. The hunt for first place is still an open question, if Evanston can develop its top end team performances and Oak Park can establish more consistent placement at the last few races.

Looking Forward

The Lawndale 5k is currently being scored.

The next Circuit Race will see all 12 circuit teams clash in a head-to-heads at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. For many teams, this will be their golden opportunity to win their division on one of the largest stages in the world!

Helpful Links:

Learn more about the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit

Results for the Hidden Gem Half Marathon

Age Graded Results from the Hidden Gem Half Marathon

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