Emil Bojanov & Laura Batterink

Emil Bojanov
 2014 July Emil Bojanov

When Emil Bojanov’s family came to the United States roughly 15 years ago from Bulgaria, he needed to find a new sport. After playing soccer in his home country, Bojanov gravitated towards track. During his college years, Bojanov earned All-American as an athlete at the University of Chicago and won the Bulgarian national title in the 1,500-meter run.

Today, the 29-year-old Fleet Feet Racing Team member names the 5K as his favorite race, and for good reason. In his past three races, Bojanov finished first or second, taking top honors at the United Run for the Zoo 5K and the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge while finishing second at the ABC 7 Jim Gibbons 5K with a sub-16 minute race.

After recovering from an injury in March, Bojanov started a new 36-week training period and runs a race roughly every two weeks. He says he plans to run a number of local racs like the Burgers and Beer 5K and the BTN Big 105K while building towards more competitive races in the fall and working to run a sub-15 minute 5K.

Laura Batterink
 2014 July Laura Batterink

Laura Batterink picked up running as a hobby while attending Oregon University, and since then, the sport has become a major part of her life. Batterink, a Canadian native currently living in Evanston, trains with the Evanston Running Club and has emerged as one of the top contenders in the CARA Runners Choice Circuit this year.

Batterink, 29, finished second in the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in March and won the Quarryman Challenge, Elgin Fox Trot and North Shore Classic Half Marathon. Despite her impressive performances, Batterink says she had no plans to win. At Quarryman, she wanted to run the best race she could, and she treated the Elgin Fox Trot as a training run. Batterink says she didn’t think she had a chance to win the North Shore Classic Half Marathon but managed to pass the lead runner near the end and took the crown.

This year, Batterink plans to return to Toronto to compete in the Canadian 10K National Championships and will also run in the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Vancouver.