Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Delilah No. 1 on the SW Half Marathon charts

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Photo by Jeff Vorva

Delilah DiCrescenzo won the women’s portion of the 10th Southwest Half Marathon on Sunday in Palos Heights.

Delilah DiCrescenzo was a world-class runner and steeplechase athlete.

The former Queen of Peace student has competed all over the world and was close to becoming an Olympian.

But no matter what she accomplishes in athletics, she will forever linked with the Plain White T’s megahit “Hey There Delilah,’’ which was released in 2006 but became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts in 2007. It was also No. 1, 2 or 3 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The 34-year-old has been out of the limelight for her competitive running since 2014 but on Sunday, she competed in the 10th running of the Southwest Half Marathon in Palos Heights and won the race in 1 hour, 38 minutes and 52 seconds.

Like the half marathon, the song is 10-years-old as well and it’s still making an impact. Recently it was heard on the TV show “Orange is the New Black” and “Family Guy.’’ A Time magazine critic said the song was “an intimate love song that’s damn near universal.’’

And, yes, she was the Delilah the song was written for after Plain White T’s frontman Tom Higgenson met her when she was at Columbia University. The two never became a couple but there were some close moments while the two were in and out of their own relationships. So he wrote the song about her and it became a No. 1 hit and she was his guest the next year at the Grammy Awards. The song was nominated but did not win – losing to the late Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.’’

“Truth be told, it’s probably a good thing it never worked out with us,” Higgenson told in 2015.

But it led to an iconic song and as far as DiCrescenzo is concerned, it never gets old being linked with the tune, even though I was probably the millionth person to ask her about it.

“It doesn’t get old because it’s amazing that it’s still popular with a lot of people,” she said. “I’m happy to be associated with it. I’m happy for the band because it is still doing really well. All-in-all, it’s great.’’

DiCrescenzo, who lives in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago and has family in Orland Park, said she made her Southwest Half Marathon debut because she’s shopped at Palos Heights’ Running For Kicks store (owned by race co-founder Mel Diab) for years, starting back when she was in high school.

“This gave me an excuse to get back into shape, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last eight weeks,” she said. “It was a longer race than I’ve been training for but I was happy because the course is actually pretty forgiving. It’s flat. It was a nice day. I want to come back next year.’’

DiCrescenzo is now leading a normal life as she works for Gatorade in Chicago and works with college and high school teams.

“I needed a break body-wise, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “Now I feel recharged and ready to train again. I enjoy being normal. The teens and first part of my adult life was running and being singularly devoted to that. It’s nice to feel more well-rounded. I can pursue my career and have running be more in the background than in the forefront.’’

Like many Queen on Peace alums, DiCrescenzo did not like hearing the news in January that her former high school was closing.

“I was really bummed,” she said. “That’s where I started running and I still have a lot of lifelong friends from there. It kind of feels like the end of an era. I’m just so happy that St. Laurence (the school next door to Queen of Peace in Burbank) decided to go coed, because it keeping that spirit alive.

“It’s a bummer, but they are making the best of it. At the end of the day, it’s a building and it won’t stop the memories that we have and the relationships we created.’’