Originally from Denmark, Lars Juhl came to the United States almost 20 years ago on scholarship to run cross country and track for Illinois State University. After college, Juhl believed he could compete at the top level without changing his training. When he couldn’t complete his first major marathon, Juhl fell away from the sport and left the lifestyle for five years.
Juhl now trains with a new group of friends and posted his personal best time at the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Over the last year, Juhl has been fighting back from an injury. While he feels that his times may be too slow, his finishes have been anything but disappointing. In June he finished first overall at the Ronald McDonald Children’s Hospital at Loyola 5K and followed that with a second place finish at the Run for Gus 5K in July. Recently, Juhl won the inaugural Chicago 10K by almost two minutes.
Juhl now lives in Ukranian Village. He plans to run the Bucktown 5K and is waiting for the weather to cool down so he can build up his mileage and compete in a half marathon.
Though Melissa Hardesty has only been running for about five years, she has posted impressive times and finishes, including recent top five finishes in the BTN Big 10K and the Chicago Women’s 5K.
A dancer growing up, it wasn’t until friends talked her into running together for fun that she gave the sport a chance. Although she was building mileage, Hardesty says racing used to make her feel nervous and stressed out. In 2008 she hurdled this fear with the help of college friends and ran that year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon. She continued to run until Achilles pain forced her to take a break at the start of 2012.
When Hardesty felt ready to return to the sport, she continued to work on improving. After finishing third at the Chicago Women’s 5K, Hardesty felt she could have pushed herself harder. The Schererville, Ind. Native recovered nicely with a first place finish at the Chinatown 5K; a race she didn’t expect to excel in because of the day’s heat.
Hardesty, who now lives in Chicago, plans to use the fall to build up her mileage in an effort to improve her time and hopes to be ready for a spring marathon.