Winnetka gets in holiday spirit with Firecracker 5K
Ed Bjes, recreation supervisor for the Winnetka Park District, gets people ready during the Winnetka Park District's Firecracker 5K & 1 1/2 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk on Saturday at Village Green in Winnetka. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:34AM
WINNETKA — Runners of all ages were up bright and early Saturday morning to brave the heat and take on the annual Firecracker 5K Race and 1 ½ Family Run/Walk at the Village Green in Winnetka.
The temperature was 74 degrees during the 8 a.m. race and climbing, but the humidity and beating sun had the 155 runners who turned out for the race sweating from the onset.
The Winnetka Fire Department was on hand to keep participants cool with a mist of water streaming from a fire truck parked nearby.
“We had 220 people run the race last year, so I think the heat scared some people away,” said Ed Bjes, race organizer and recreation supervisor for the Winnetka Park District. “A lot of people are also on vacation for the 4th of July holiday, but we did have a few people from out of town come out this year.”
Out of the 155 runners, 35 registered with addresses outside of Winnetka, with some coming in from Chicago and others from nearby suburbs like Evanston and Northbrook.
Every runner finished the race, with William Hague of Winnetka coming in first place for the men’s group (for the second year in a row) at 17 minutes and 24 seconds. Megan O’Meara of Winnetka finished first for the women’s group with a time of 20 minutes and 34 seconds.
While some runners came out determined to finish at the top, others said they participated for fun.
For Winnetka resident Rick Jones, the Firecracker 5K was his first-ever race. To prepare for the run, he trained at Fitness Together or a few weeks with his trainer Adam Dawdry of Evanston.
“I finished at 35 minutes so it went well for my first one,” Jones said. “Coming up the hill at the end was tough though—I’m going to wait for it to get colder out before I do this again.”
Dawdry ran alongside Jones to cheer him on.
“Our goal was just to run and have fun and see what he could do, and I think he did pretty well,” Dawdry said.
Joelle Kuhnen, a resident of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, came out to join her husband Matt Kuhnen, the manager of Fitness Together for the Family Run/Walk. Despite being eight months pregnant, Kuhnen finished the walk without hardly breaking a sweat.
“I run a few 5K’s each year when I’m not pregnant, but right now I’m sticking to the walking part!” Kuhnen said.
Father and son duo Alex and 9-year-old Ian Pichs of Winnetka ran the Firecracker 5K for the second year in a row together. Alex said he finished the race at 31 minutes and 7 seconds and Ian finished just behind him at 31 minutes and 31 seconds.
But Ian disagreed, claiming that it was he who actually beat his dad.
“I finished four seconds before he did,” he said.
After the race, Alex and Ian were off on their separate ways, with Ian heading to a baseball game and Alex hitting the golf course.
“I like to run because it’s fun and it’s good exercise,” Ian said.