Jeff Purdom & Rachel Velarde

Jeff Purdom
 2014 Jan Feb Jeff Purdom

Jeff Purdom ran in high school, but never at a competitive level. Seven years ago, a friend convinced him to pick it up again. He ran his first Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2007 and has been hooked since. Now, the 30 year old is competing in a wide variety of races and has more than found his groove, including a win at the inaugural Naperville Half Marathon in 1:14:14.

“I had a time that I was going to shoot for, with a race that size you don’t know the quality of the field,” Purdom says. “The plan was to run my race and I realized fairly early on that it was just me and two other guys at the half mile mark. It was about 12.1 miles of trying to hang on.”

Purdom’s favorite distance is the 10K because it allows him to truly use his speed. He won This Run’s For Jack 5K in late October and hopes to break his 5K PR by early 2014. One distance will be put on hold, however. After the birth of his son, Purdom said he will not be running a marathon in the near future.

Rachel Velarde
2014 Jan Feb Rachel Velarde 

Following a second place finish at the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon, Rachel Velarde needed a break. She had a reoccurring hamstring injury and needed to start a different style of training. When she came back she picked up right where she left off.

Velarde’s first race after recovery came in early November when she competed at the Hot Chocolate 15K. She finished in 57:39 as the second female overall, less than 30 seconds behind her teammate and first place finisher Pam Staton. A few weeks later, she won the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot in 17:56, finishing in the top ten overall.

During her time in school at Notre Dame, Velarde said she focused on 5K and 10K races, but since then is increasing her distance and has big plans for 2014. Velarde, a New Mexico native, is considering running Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona in mid-January where she would be in front of her friends and family. She is also planning on running her first full marathon when she heads to Minnesota for Grandma’s Marathon and follow that with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.