July Athletes of the Month: Ryan Verchota and Rachel Wills

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Ryan Verchota

Accomplishments:

  • Complete the silver Rush 50-miler in Leadville
  • Was a guide at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

What was your experience like as a guide at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon? 

On a seven-day notice I was asked to guide a below the knee amputee Aalkdy to finish his 24th consecutive Chicago Marathon.  While he initially was shooting for a 4 hour marathon, the day proved to be a much harder challenge and we finished in under 7 hours. To me it is about giving back and inspiring others to achieve their goals.

What is your favorite event to compete in?

Running the Rim2Rim2Rim in the Grand Canyon.  Not a sanctioned event but I did this in May 2017 and was the most epic way to see a wonder of the world while running 50 miles.

PR you’re proud of?

5:41 @ Earth Day 50k

Number of shoes you go through a year?

6 pairs of trail shoes and 2 pairs of road shoes

Rachel Wills

Accomplishments:

  • Two-time Dirty Kanza Finisher – and beating the sunset in 2019
  • Racing with Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling for two seasons on the road
  • Being invited to race for the first all women’s elite gravel racing squad The Meteor // Intelligentsia

Why did you start cycling?

I swam through college, so buying a bike and registering for a triathlon seemed like a logical transition. After a few years and a couple Ironman races, I realized I liked riding the most, and have been acquiring {and riding} bikes ever since.

Favorite race?

Dirty Kanza 200

PR you’re proud of?

Barry Roubaix 100 – 6:18

Average weekly mileage?

200

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run many distance races, and is going for her first marathon at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon this October. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism, and is working towards her Master in Arts in New Media and Marketing.

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