Four-year-old Charlie Rakunas knew exactly what he liked best about the Kids' Turtle Hurdle on Saturday at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles.
"The little thing that had a little Styrofoam and I got to go over it," Charlie said. Translation? "He liked the hurdles," said his grandma, Mary Rakunas of St. Charles. "He really liked the tunnel, too."
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The kids' obstacle course was a new feature at the 6th Annual Bob Leonard 5K Run/Walk, which serves as the main fundraiser for the St. Charles River Corridor Foundation. The organization focuses on riverfront projects and improving the health and aesthetics of the Fox River.
About 220 runners and 70 walkers took part in the event held under a blue sky and with temperatures in the 60s.
"This is the best weather ever," said Jennifer Leonard-Biddle, president of the River Corridor Foundation and daughter of the late Bob Leonard. About 50 volunteers helped out. "This keeps growing every year. A few years ago we never imagined we'd have the Turtle Hurdle, but now look at all this."
The 5K run featured both novices and experienced runners who said the hilly course through Timber Trails Park was challenging, but worth it.
"It was a little harder than I wanted it to be," said Alex Zemke, 26, of Wheaton, who finished second among 20- to 29-year-old males. His fiance, Kendalle Krause, 25, of Lombard, took first place in her age group for women.
Friends Amy Kloese, 32, and Amy Frazer, 33, ran their first 5K, with Frazer pushing 2-year-old daughter Abby in a stroller. The women were part of a group of about 25 runners who participated in a training program run by Dick Pond Athletics in St. Charles. "We ran the whole time and we were talking the whole way, which was good," Kloese said. "We're going to do it again!"
Walker Nancy Nelson of St. Charles took part in the event for the third year and was already planning for a fourth round. "I think it's organized so well. I want to do it next year," she said even before setting off on the walk.
Others were there to support their loved ones, like St. Charles Alderman Maureen Lewis, who said foot surgery prevented her from taking part in the event. Geneva resident Craig Shodeen said he cheered on his wife, daughter and son-in-law. "I was there at the start and finish. They did great. I think it was a great event," he said.