Fire Safety and Prevention was the theme of this annual race held in Tinley Park. This was a charity event full of fun, families, and friendly competition. Although I do all of the Tinley Park Park District races, this was my first time running this event hosted by the Tinley Park Fire Department and Tinley Park Fire Prevention Bureau. I am so glad I did it this year and will definitely plan on running it in the future! Race Organizer Robert Buttala planned an organized, well-attended and fun event for runners and walkers of all types.
I was excited Sunday morning to run because of the opportunity to do a new race and the amazing weather. I saw many familiar Tinley Park runners who came out for the event including Jamie Parks, 57, who placed first in his age group. The course began at the Tinley Park Train Station parking lot on 80thavenue. The course was completely flat and fast and wove through the residential area north of the train station. The route was clearly marked with arrows on the pavement and with signs.
I was able to race pretty well because of the competition and the course. My adrenaline surged at the end as I rounded the corner and saw fire trucks, the fire department, and other support services cheering us on to the last part of the race. The race finished back in the parking lot with a left turn into the finish line where fans and volunteers greeted the runners. The race was chip- timed and clocks were posted at the mile markers with the times.
The best part of this race is the great atmosphere and the cause. There were several fire safety displays and exhibits and I actually learned some new tips. Each runner received a bag and a bright yellow t-shirt, but be sure to sign up early…late registrants (like me) did not get a shirt…my fault for not signing up earlier! The proceeds for the race benefited the Illinois “Camp I Am Me” Burn Camp and over $100,000 has been raised through various events. Tinley Park Fire Chief Forest Reeder led off the awards ceremony and many local firefighters were there offering their support.
The race had an exciting finish that came down to a second on the time; Jeff Koranda, 33 of Chicago, was the Overall Winner with a time of 17:53. Nicholas Prajka, 24 of Chicago, finished a close second in 17:54. The Overall Female Winner was Calista Stefaniak, 20 of Chicago, who finished in a time of 21:18 and Bridget Miller, 23 of Tinley Park, who finished second in 21:24. Competition was intense for the top runners, but even better was seeing so many families and couples running and walking the event. Before the 5k race there was a kids 1k race in the parking lot and the kids received medals for their participation. A raffle drawing was held with donated prizes.
This race was truly a community event. I do not think I have ever seen a list of so many sponsors. There were so many people and organizations who helped out with this event.