Crossing the line in more ways than one

  • Written by Ken Karrson


Crossing the line in more ways than one

Controversial finish caps male portion of Palos Heights races


By Jeff Vorva

Reporter Editor

            When it came to figuring out which males won the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon and 10K run on Sunday -- well, it required a little work.

What should have been simple tasks turned into ordeals. It wasn’t a matter of who crossed the finish line first in Palos Heights -- that would be too easy.

For the record, Kyle Brady of Warrenville won the half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 11 minutes, 31 seconds while Tinley Park’s Mark Luttrell set the pace in the 10K with his 38:12 clocking. 

But before that happened a couple of bizarre and somewhat surreal events unfolded.

In the 10K race, a man wearing no shirt or bib crossed the finish line first and accepted the winning medal. He said his name was Juan Munoz from Cicero, but when a reporter asked him his age, he replied, “Naaah.’’

Since the man didn’t have a bib or timing chip, he was termed a “bandit” by race officials and denied the victory. Instead, the win was given to the 42-year-old Luttrell.

Race co-founder Mel Diab said it was the first time in the history of the First Midwest Bank event such a thing had occurred.

“All of the bigger events have bandits,” Diab said. “It happens to the best marathons.

“There was a guy from France who participated in the Chicago Marathon who once tried to win prize money when he finished ninth or 10th overall. They have chip timing and they found that he cheated and took a cab.”

Declaring a winner for the half marathon also proved more confusing and complicated than expected.

Because some of the early finishers in the half marathon were passing by the slower 10K runners, the race’s other co-founder, Jeff Prestinario, had some concerns. They turned out to be well-founded.

Despite race organizers’ attempts to instruct the 10K runners to go through a makeshift chute on the left side and the half marathoners to run into one on the right, Brady slipped through the cracks and crossed the finish line with a group of 10K runners. Thus he wasn’t allowed the ceremonial luxury of breaking the tape in victory.

“I saw a guy who looked like a half-marathon type in with the 10K runners, but I didn’t know for sure,” said Prestinario, who also served as the race announcer. “I didn’t want to announce that he was our winner unless I knew for sure.’’

Brady, a standout runner from Wheaton-Warrenville South High School and North Central College, departed right after he completed his race. The individuals in charge of timing said they weren’t certain what Brady’s official time was but guessed it to be 1:11:31, just ahead of Gurnee’s Jared Rothlauf, who was clocked at 1:12:29.

The women’s winners were easier to track as Bolingbrook’s Kristen Heckert, 26, won with a 1:18:36. She was followed across the line by Chicago’s Alyssa Poremba, 23, at 1:18:44. Both are runners for the New Balance Chicago team.

Last year Naperville’s Amanda Mirochna, another New Balance runner, edged Heckert by one second. Mirochna did not defend her title because of an injury, so Heckert’s main competition this year was Poremba.

“We ran together for almost the whole race,” Heckert said. “The last 800 was like, ‘Whatever you got.’ I was lucky enough this time to have enough in the tank to get ahead.”

Kailey Green of Chicago won the 10K event with a 39:05 while Patricia Holland was second at 46:24.