Dave Caldwell & Melissa Stone Cooney

Dave Caldwell
 2014 March Dave Caldwell

Just a few years ago Dave Caldwell felt unhealthy. After starting with a few laps at work, he built his endurance. Now, Caldwell is pushing the podium at ultramarathons.

In the three years since he started running competitively, Caldwell has become one of the top endurance runners in the area. Three times in the last year he found himself in the top two overall, including a second place finish at the Frozen Gnome 10K Trail Race in mid-January. Caldwell also posted a top ten overall time and age group victory at the Chicago Lakefront 50K. The 35 year old says the ultra distance is his favorite, giving him the opportunity to use his speed and endurance over the impressive distance.

With a young family, Caldwell said training for races can be more difficult. However, he will still work towards some of his annual favorite races including the Chicago Lakefront 50K and Fort2Base. The Chicagoan also works with Team Red White and Blue Trail Running Camp in Texas where he and fellow runners help military veterans acclimate to civilian life through running.

Melissa Stone Cooney
 2014 March Melissa Stone Cooney

From turkey trost with her dad to a finish line proposal at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2010, running and family have always been intertwined for Melissa Stone Cooney. Stone Cooney, who works in strategic partnership and corporate wellness for the Chicago Area Runners Association, now trains on a weekly basis with CARA members and calls them her running family.

Coming off of a stress fracture in eight of her toes, Stone Cooney wasn’t sure how she’d recover this year. After taking five months off and missing nearly all of the 2013 race season, the 34 year old stayed active by spinning, getting in the pool and doing yoga. Her first big race back was the F^3 Lake Half Marathon in late January. Despite brutal winter conditions, Stone Cooney pushed out ahead of the pack early and by mile two she decided to see what she could do. Her training paid off, and she finished as the first overall woman with a time of 1:26:37.

Going forward, Stone Cooney plans to continue pushing herself. While she competes in distances and events of all kinds she is staying focused on her favorite distance, the marathon.