Naperville runners sweep city’s first marathon

Naperville runners completed a hometown sweep Sunday at the inaugural Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon, dashing to first place in the men’s and women’s divisions of the 26.2-mile race.

Naperville resident and North Central College graduate Yonatan Mascote, 24, was the men’s winner and first overall marathon finisher, coming in at 2:34:25.

Amanda Mirochna, a 26-year-old Naperville native who graduated from Neuqua Valley High School, crossed the finish line in 2:50:15 as the women’s winner.

Mascote and Mirochna led a field of about 1,400 marathoners in the event, which also included a half marathon.

But, of course, there was much more to the race than the top finishers. Here’s a look at how race day played out ...

4:45 a.m. If you want to drive through downtown Naperville without getting stuck in traffic, it turns out 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday isn’t bad. Especially on this day, when the holiday lights already are twinkling and the only other people out are crews closing lanes for the marathon.

5 a.m. Dave Sheble and members of his race team already have been at the command tent for an hour dealing with last-minute details before the 7 a.m. start. A lot of the prep work was completed Saturday, he says, but some stuff remains: like unpacking each of the individually wrapped medals. “Everybody in the city has been extremely cooperative,” he says.

5:10 a.m. Kahla Sharp-Leggett, owner of a company called Altitude and a certified balloon artist, is attaching roughly 300 balloons in shades of blue and yellow to the start/finish line. There are a few too many initially, so she pokes several with a sharp object. “I don’t want to pop too many of these,” she says, “and have people think it’s the starting gun.”

5:15 a.m. Pat Ford is a member of Naperville’s Community Radio Watch program and he’s been standing guard near the start/finish line since about midnight. Founded in 1982, the group assists Naperville police however it can and, in this case, that means having people on the scene since 5 p.m. Saturday. “Since Boston,” Ford says, “they just wanted to be sure.”

5:40 a.m. Kevin Jandt, the owner of End Result, is ready to go. Jandt’s company is responsible for timing each runner. “We’ll stay until the last person has finished,” he says, “or until the race organizers tell us to go.”

6:40 a.m. Race Director Bob Hackett builds his own mileage scurrying from place to place, walkie-talkie in hand. One minute he’s giving directions to flagbearers from Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873. The next, he’s shaking hands with runners, offering a last “good luck.” The walkie-talkie takes a spill from chilly hands on a morning that begins with temperatures in the 30s. But it keeps on ticking and Hackett keeps on walking, pausing only to line up by the four other race directors with Naper Events, LLC, as Sara Bendel and Trish Jones-Bendel perform “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

6:40 a.m. Mayor George Pradel is bundled against the morning cold, but it doesn’t stop him from chatting with anyone who walks by and posing for pictures. “I’ll be wandering around all day,” he says, just in case anyone thinks he might suddenly morph into a wallflower.

6:45 a.m. Pradel takes to the microphone to welcome everyone to Naperville. The speakers pop and one of the race organizers leans over to the mayor and says “You can’t shout into the microphone.”

6:45 a.m. Marathon wear is by no means uniform. Like snowflakes, no two outfits are the same. For instance, the runner wearing an orange tutu over blue bike shorts, with knee-high Chicago Bears socks, a Bears winter hat and Bears face paint. It is, after all, a football Sunday.

6:48 a.m. Pam Davis, CEO of the Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare system, tells the crowd she’s “looking forward to this becoming a longtime tradition.”

6:50 a.m. Waiting for the signal to start the race, Beth Lisauskas wonders with her husband where they should go next. They have watched their son, Nick, play baseball and basketball at Waubonsie Valley. This, though, will be his first marathon. “Totally different,” Beth says. “We’re a little out of our comfort zone, but it’s OK.” Nick, a junior at Notre Dame, is running for the American Cancer Society. A friend had a bone-marrow transplant four years ago. Another is a three-time cancer survivor. “He feels good to accomplish this,” Beth says. “He thought it would be a great thing to check off his bucket list.”

7 a.m. Davis glances at Hackett, whose finger is poised above his stopwatch. He hits the button as she sounds the starting horn, sending a puff of air into the chilly morning. Elite runners in the first wave take off, following bicycle pacers from Spokes Bikes. A total of 2,562 runners cross the starting line over the next several minutes — less than the 3,500 organizers expected because of the morning’s cold temperatures.

7:05 a.m. Mike McAleese has students from his School of Holistic Massage and Reflexology from Downers Grove setting up tables in the massage tent. A marathon runner himself, he says his team is there to provide post-race rubdowns to encourage muscle recovery. Does he wish he was running? He pauses. “Yes and no,” he says. “This is what I do for a living.” Then he looks toward the starting line, where the first waves of runners already have hit the course. “This is a suburban runner’s dream.”

7:20 a.m. Dr. Eric Williams, a Naperville chiropractor, is standing alone at the entrance to Fredenhagen Park. His job eventually will be to direct marathon runners off Washington Street and through the park as they begin their final push toward the finish line. “It’s community service,” he says. “You can’t sleep in every morning.”

7:20 a.m. The medical tent gets its first customer as Faith Chepkwony, volunteer captain of finishers’ medals, cuts her thumb and needs a bandage. Race Medical Director Dr. Michael Hartmann, an emergency room physician at Edward Hospital, says no runners needed treatment before the race began. “Everyone went to the bathroom and they’re off,” Hartmann says.

7:35 a.m. Wes Schoenfeldt of Naperville wanted to run the half marathon, but hesitated for one day and discovered the race already was filled. So instead, he’s walking through downtown Naperville trying to find somewhere to watch Naperville Community Television’s live coverage of the race. “I keep seeing all these TVs in bars and restaurants,” he says, “but they’re all closed.” Then, only partially kidding, “I was looking for a Jumbotron at the start.”

7:45 a.m. Lining up cups of Gatorade and water on a folding table, Julie Lichter and her crew are ready. The cheering/aid/refreshment station from Grace United Methodist Church is just shy of mile marker 25 on the marathon course, a block west of the church. Stacey Abe is among Grace’s members running in the marathon. Lichter, who’s been here since 6:15 a.m., expects to have about 35 volunteers working the station. “We always thought we should be reaching out to the community. Now we’re here,” Lichter says. “The runners are going to need that water and cheering for that extra burst of energy, because they’re going to hit that hill right after here. Hopefully our push can get ‘em through.”

8:10 a.m. Elizabeth Camis and Frank Grimaldi have finished their early morning task of hanging all the race banners and signs. Neither is sure exactly how many banners they’ve put up, but they agree it’s probably close to 150. That’s the good news. The bad? They’re in charge of taking them down after the race.

8:35 a.m. A stream of marathon well-wishers curls around the corner of Hillside and Washington, eagerly awaiting the first trickle of half marathoners. A father cautions his kids to keep off the street. “You have to stay out of their way,” he says. “They’re going to be tired coming through.” Donna and Harland Schaffer of Naperville stand back a few steps. Donna, a nurse at Edward Hospital, and Harland, a nurse at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, are here to volunteer and cheer. Donna’s niece, Megan O’Donovan, is running the half marathon; Donna’s sister, Diane Cook, the full. “It’s so crowded at the starting line,” Donna says. “We thought we’d catch them later in the race, let them know we’re watching.” A half-mile or so back, Mary Jane Wurth has a good curbside view. Sitting at the edge of her driveway next to her dog, Wurth plans to watch the half marathoners come through, go in and eat breakfast and come out to watch the rest. “It’s a great event for Naperville,” Wurth says. “My husband and daughter are both runners, and we watch all the marathons. We’re pleased to see Naperville start this.”

8:45 a.m. Win or lose, it’s already been a good race in Sgt. Steve Schindlbeck’s eyes. Schindlbeck is in charge of security at the marathon and there’s a strong police presence with more than 90 officers from seven jurisdictions. “On paper, you know things are looking good going in,” he says. “But you have to wait to see how it’s executed.”

9:10 a.m. A sign: “Mike, you ran better than our government.”

9:25 a.m. Dr. Eric Williams is no longer alone at the entrance to Fredenhagen Park, as the marathon front-runners finally appear. “Here comes the first one,” he says.

10:10 a.m. When Beth Noe volunteered for the race, she didn’t know organizers would assign her a spot along the half marathon route that is right in her front yard, “so my husband’s been bringing me coffee.” By this time, the top half marathoners have long since been past and those remaining on the course are moving a little, uh, cautiously. That doesn’t prevent Noe from cheering them on and most smile and say “thank you.” “I like them,” Noe says of the slower runners, “because they talk more.”

10:15 a.m. A half marathon runner is just a few blocks from the finish line. She is talking on her cellphone.

10:30 a.m. The final hill is a killer, even for the winners. Both Mascote and Mirochna use words like “tough” and “bad” to describe the short, steep block up Brainard Street to Highland Avenue. “The worst part was that last hill at the very end,” Mirochna says. “I’m glad I didn’t know it was there. I think I would have mentally psyched myself out.”

2:30 p.m. All the competitors have crossed the finish line or been scooped up by pace vehicles for falling behind the “sweepers,” volunteers bringing up the rear of the half marathon and marathon. “It was a beautiful day and I think everyone really enjoyed it,” Race Director Hackett says. “I don’t think I heard more than one negative comment all day and it was ‘Aww, the course was hard.’”

Ÿ Daily Herald staff writer Bob Smith contributed to this report.

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  Yonatan Mascote of Naperville won the city’s inaugural marathon Sunday with a time of 2:34:25. George LeClaire/
  Amanda Mirochna of Naperville is greeted Sunday by Mayor George Pradel and Pam Davis, CEO of the Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare system, after turning in the fastest time in the women’s marathon at 2:50:15. George LeClaire/
  Each runner who completed the Naperville marathon or half marathon received a medal. George LeClaire/
  Matt Longino of Downers Grove kisses his 4-year-old daughter, Brooke, after completing the race. George LeClaire/
  Runners about to cross the finish line in Sunday’s half marathon in Naperville. George LeClaire/
  Jan Furr holds a sign congratulating runners Sunday near the finish of the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon. George LeClaire/

Race results

For complete results and finish times from the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon, visit <a href=""></a>.

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