After struggling to find its footing for weeks, summer arrived with a vengeance in Chicago last week, with two back-to-back days with highs of 93, followed by an equally stifling 88-degree day just in time for the only major road race in the city during the summer: the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
Despite the swampy conditions, 16,730 runners came out over three races in two days, starting with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K Saturday morning on the Lakefront Trail. The race, open to all runners, also kicked off the Remix Challenge, which tasked participants with completing both Saturday’s 5K and Sunday’s half marathon. Zach and Andi Ripley, a husband and wife pair from Rockford, Michigan, each won their divisions of the 5K, finishing in 16:06 and 18:41, respectively, on a course that ended with its last mile directly along Lake Michigan, free of any shade to ease the sun beating off the water.
In equally challenging weather Sunday morning, Jeffery Eggleston, 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon champion, reclaimed his title in 1:05:05. The time, well of his 1:02:42 PR, still gave him a solid lead over Zach Ripley, who took second in the half in 1:07:58. Chicagoan Kevin Havel, who established a new 1:05:54 course record at the North Shore Classic in May under much friendlier weather conditions, finished third in 1:08:14.
“I wanted to push myself and need to learn how to run hard in the humidity,” Eggleston, who next month will compete in the IAAF World Championships on the U.S. marathon team in Beijing, said in a press release. “I need to train myself how to run in difficult conditions. I’m not the best heat runner, but I’m getting better at it. This is great prep.”
Maegan Krifchin, the second place finisher at the 2012 U.S. Half Marathon Championships, won the women’s division of the half marathon with more than a two minute lead, taking the title in 1:15:17. Yihunlish Bekele finished second in 1:17:33, while local runner Chirine Njeim, who finished 14th in last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, finished third this year in 1:21:19: a full five minutes faster than her 2014 time.
“It obviously wasn’t a big PR-type of day,” Krifchin said in a press release. “I just wanted to compete and push myself. I wanted to be comfortable with running uncomfortably.”
Nearly 2,000 runners took on the 10K that occurred simultaneously with the half marathon on Sunday. Dawn Grunnagle of Dallas broke the tape in 37:12, while Chicagoan Nico Farr won the men’s division in 37:34.
For complete results from all three weekend races, visit www.runrocknroll.com/chicago.