Searing heat can’t defeat avid runners

McHENRY – The hot weather didn’t stop Karen Toci from honoring her late friend Mary O’Shea at the annual McHenry River Run on Tuesday.

Toci, 48, was part of a group of 18 people wearing T-shirts featuring O’Shea’s picture and running the 3-mile race in tribute to O’Shea, who died in April 2011.

“She used to run the [River Run] all the time,” said Toci, who also participated in last year’s race. “We got shirts to honor her.”

The McHenry Parks and Recreation Department started the event in 1980. It added a 3-mile race to the original 6.8-mile course because of the popularity of the shorter distance. Yet it’s still one of the few community runs in the area that’s held at night during the week.

“We kept it in the evening because it’s in conjunction with our Fiesta Days,” said Pattie Lunkenheimer, athletic program coordinator for McHenry Parks and Recreation. “It’s always one of the events during the week.”

Lunkenheimer said the heat kept numbers down in both races. There were 245 finishers in the 3-mile race, and 116 completed the longer course.

A slight breeze and partial cloud cover lowered temperatures in the early evening, but extra precautions were still taken because of the day’s hot weather, including extra water, police and rescue squads on the course.

“For the 3-mile, they always had one water stop, but we moved it so they could get water twice on the route,” Lunkenheimer said. “They can loop around and come back and get it again.”

The added efforts were appreciated by a number of the participants, including Spring Grove resident Ron Garrett.

“I was thinking about maybe not doing the [3-mile race] because it was so hot,“ said Garrett, 56, who was running the race with his son, Ryan. “It worked out perfect; there’s shade and people are giving you water and putting hoses on you. It’s really fun. They really do a good job running this.”

Torben Hoffmeyer, who graduated from Marengo High School and will run at Grand Valley State University this fall, was the overall winner of the 3-mile race, finishing in 16 minutes 14 seconds.. Michelle Smith was the top female finisher, with a time of 19:58.

Daniel Fox was the overall winner in the 6.8-mile race, crossing the finish line in 39:14. Kayla Beattie, a former runner at Woodstock High School who won the IHSA cross country state championship as a senior in 2010, was the first female finisher with a time of 40:27.

This was the first year the River Run has used automatic chip timing to record race results.

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