MIke Dietz didn’t start running competitively until he reached his 30s. A soccer player in his youth, Dietz made the change after realizing he had lost the reflexes needed. Although in a new sport, he kept the same competitive drive. Now Dietz, 39, is breaking the tape in ultramarathons and trail races.
The appeal of ultramarathons came from their terrain. Dietz, an avid hiker, loves the scenery along the courses and being able to see the sights of a hike at a faster pace.
As his experience grows, that pace is getting faster and faster. IN preparation for the Ice Age Trail 50 in May, Dietz signed up for the Frozen Gnome 50K in Crystal Lake in January. Although his legs didn’t feel perfect, the Wauconda resident was able to keep within reach of the lead pack. On the third loop, he built up a few minutes lead and was able to hang on to win the race with a time of 4:16:00.
The transition from Michigan to Chicago did not come without frustration for Kylen Cieslak. After graduating from Grand Valley State University where she was also on the cross country team, Cieslak moved to Chicago for a job in the summer of 2011. Unfortunately, the lifelong runner was injured and couldn’t race. To make it worse, Cieslak lived across the street from Universal Sole which served as a constant reminder of her injury.
Once healthy, Cieslak went directly to Universal Sole and began training and preparing for her first marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Her collegiate success continued and Cieslak finished fourth in her age group and in the top 40 for overall women. The 24-year-old’s momentum continued to build after beating Tera Moody and winning the F^3 Lake Half Marathon with a time of 1:19:37.
While she has run everything from 5Ks to marathons, Cieslak says the longer the distance the better. Everything that goes into preparing for a marathon is enjoyable, Cieslak says. She is currently preparing for her second marathon and will be heading to Boston this spring.