One would expect that someone who graduated from Harvard and moved on to Northwestern University’s Business School would have a strong drive for perfection. This is absolutely the case for 27-year-old Kevin Lyons. The Florida native has been running since he was 12, he has raced in seven marathons including a personal best at the 2010 Disney Marathon with a time of 2:31.
This past April, Lyons started his season strong with a top five finish at the ChiTown Half Marathon on a day where he wasn’t expecting his best. “I was going into the race not really thinking I was in that good of shape, but it was kind of one of those perfect days for running,” Lyons says.
After hitting a few good splits, the current Evanston resident decided to push himself. Lyons was able to power through the final few miles before eventually posting a Personal Record in the half marathon. Lyons success continued the following week with a repeat victory at the Egg Shell Shuffle Half Marathon in Schaumburg. The surprise heat wave added with the hilly course slowed Lyons, but couldn’t stop him. He was the first to cross the line at 1:13:58, three minutes ahead of the second place finisher.
Though she ran all through high school, Jill Czarnik knew she wasn’t a division one college athlete. So to fill the athletic void she started running long distance races during her freshman year at University of Illinois. Czarnik said she had trouble finding good races in the Champaign area, so she found herself returning to Chicago to run and because of her early success, people started taking notice.
Her year started with a victory at the F^3 Half Marathon followed by another podium visit at the Get Lucky Half Marathon. Her strong races continued to stack up after she placed in the Egg Shell Shuffle and the ChiTown Half, though Czarnik is still looking for improvement. She plans on using her spring races to enjoy running before focusing on her relentless goal of topping the 3:00 mark at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
“I’m not ready to break three hours at this point, I’m saving that for the fall. I don’t want to say it’s torture, but it’s difficult. I came as close as five seconds over so it has become kind of my unfinished business in Chicago,” Czarnik says.