Events

Illinois Marathon brings Mahomet residents closer together

By FRED KRONER
fred@mahometnews.com

Prom Day is often filled with a myriad of last-minute details.

Hair appointments.

Nail appointments.

Perhaps a quick shopping trip to purchase a needed accessory.

Lexi Dorsey was awake and up by 4 a.m. on Saturday, the day she would attend her fourth Mahomet-Seymour Prom.

During the night, she remembers, “my eyes closed, but I never went into deep sleep. I had too many thoughts on my mind.”

It wasn’t the evening dinner and dance that caused her restlessness.

She had an early-morning engagement in Champaign.

For the second time in her 18 years, she was going to run a full marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles.

It would take about four hours of her morning.

When she became aware of the conflict, she decided she couldn’t miss either of the events.

“I found out the second week in March,” she says, “and had already put so many months into training.”

Dorsey has a running partner, both for workouts and the races.

Her grandfather, 62-year-old Randy Lipking, started his running career nearly 11 years ago.

“It still baffles me why a teenager would want to run that many miles,” he says. “I love it. She encourages other people.”

The trait appears to run in the family.

Lipking had hoped that Saturday would be his time to run a Boston Marathon qualifying mark.

“Our pace was five to 10 seconds faster (than needed) until Mile 20,” Lipking says.

He then needed a walk break to go through a water station and shortly thereafter found a runner — whom he didn’t know — who was struggling.

“I ran into him around Mile 22 or 23,” Lipking says. “He was cramping and I tried to encourage him.”

The fellow competitor was trying to reach a Boston Marathon standard in the 65-and-over age group.

“At that point, I wasn’t sure I could meet qualifying,” Lipking says, “so I thought I might as well help someone else.

“I decided to stay with him until about a quarter mile from the stadium.”

Lipking finished his race in the OSF Healthcare Illinois Marathon in 4 hours, 1 minute and 19 seconds. In his age group, he placed 10th.

He derived plenty of satisfaction, even on a day he didn’t achieve a personal-best time.

The person he helped pace met his qualifying standard and his granddaughter lowered her previous marathon time by 11 minutes.

Dorsey crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 4 minutes and 23 seconds. Out of the 1,140 finishers (both men and women) in the marathon, Dorsey placed in the upper half, finishing in 479th.

“She ended up third in her age group,” Lipking says proudly.

The race started with temperatures in the upper 30s and a 16-mile-an-hour wind out of the north, which created a race-time wind chill of 31 degrees.

Dorsey was surprised she fared as well as she did.

“It was definitely grueling,” she says. “The wind was the hardest part. You hit the wind, and the hills and it beat your body.”

The race was both physically and mentally draining.

“At about Mile 15, I was asking myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and I didn’t get out of that (mindset) until Mile 24,” Dorsey says.

In her case, the motivation to train for and run a marathon is not difficult to understand.

“It’s always nice to spend time with my grandpa,” she says.

For the record, Lipking actually has qualified for the Boston Marathon. He had a time that would have gotten him into the 2018 race.

“I opted to take my wife (Rhonda) on a 40th-anniversary trip to Hawaii,” he says.

Dorsey had an afternoon hair appointment on Saturday — which came after a nap — and it was at a convenient location.

“I’ll have my mom do it,” she relates.

Though she never competed for the high school in cross-country or track — “I went from eighth-grade track to training for a half-marathon the summer before my freshman year,” she says — Dorsey is considering running collegiately.

She will enroll at Illinois Wesleyan University in the fall as a nursing major.

On May 14, she will meet with IWU coaches to discuss “possibly joining the cross-country team,” Dorsey says.

“It would be a different challenge,” she adds, “and I’m ready for a new beginning.”

*****

Dorsey wasn’t the only M-S student who spent Saturday morning running and the evening at the M-S Prom.

Junior Karli Waldrep competed in the 5-kilometer race on Friday and returned for the 10K race the next day.

She figured since she would have devoted time to running each day anyway, she might as well be in a race.

The 17-year-old is nearing her four-year anniversary of running at least a mile every day. Her  count on Sunday was 1,432 consecutive days.

It all started as a challenge.

“My neighbor (Kelly Nykaza) challenged me (in 2014) to run every day from Memorial Day until the Fourth of July,” Waldrep recalls. “I did, and thought ‘Why not keep going?’ “

She has.

Nykaza ran the full marathon on Saturday and finished in 4 hours, 22 minutes and 20 seconds.

The day after Prom, Waldrep laced up her running shoes again.

“I did a one-mile recovery run,” Waldrep says.

She set her personal-best in the 5K race, running it in 25 minutes, 53 seconds.

Her 10K time was slower than she had hoped (1:01.14), but she was delighted at one aspect of the race.

“This is the fourth year I’ve run it (in Champaign) and the first year it wasn’t raining,” Waldrep says.

For her, running is therapeutic.

“It’s a stress-reliever,” she says. “Anything I’m thinking about goes away and I clear my head.”

She plans to run a half-marathon in Indianapolis this fall and hopes to build up to a full marathon within two years.

Waldrep had afternoon time slots on Saturday to get her hair and nails done and still felt refreshed enough to attend post-Prom at the high school from 11 p.m. on Saturday until 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.

“When I signed up (for the race) last July, I didn’t realize Prom was the same weekend,” Waldrep says.

She was undeterred when learning of the conflict.

“I said, ‘I guess it will be a busy day,’ “ she relates.

It was a good thing Sunday wasn’t a school day.

Waldrep slept in until 11 a.m.

*****

The top current or former Mahomet resident to finish the full marathon was 2004 M-S graduate Taylor Sebestik.

He covered the course with an average mile pace of 5 minutes, 59 seconds. Sebestik placed eighth overall in 2 hours, 36 minutes and 34 seconds.

“I hadn’t run a marathon in two years (since Boston, 2016) and got a PR by 10 minutes,” Sebestik says.

A guidance counselor for seven years at Waterloo (Ill.) High School, the marathon was the fifth Sebestik completed.

Though Sebestik remembers Boston as “an amazing experience,” he was coming off an injury at the time and didn’t run up to expectations.

He took time off from running afterwards before deciding to up his mileage.

“I started messing around with ultra-marathons,” he says, “and ran 50 miles in November.”

That went well and provided encouragement for returning to the 26.2-mile distance.

“I thought since I was running more, I’d take another crack at a full marathon since it is a shorter distance,” Sebestik says.

Now, he’s a bit conflicted on what’s next.

“I have more confidence and a better understanding of how to approach (marathons),”  he says, “But the ultra distances are super challenges and I enjoy the personal challenges.

“It opens my eyes to what the human body is capable of.”

Saturday’s chilly temperatures convinced Sebestik to wear gloves at the outset to keep his hands warm.

That wasn’t a problem, and he removed them by Mile 5 and carried them with him.

“I held on to them because I knew my wife and mom would be at Mile 9,” Sebestik says. “I’ve lost enough gloves over the years. I threw them down and they scooped them up.”

Though he lettered in track and cross-country both at M-S and at Illinois State University, long distances were not Sebestik’s forte.

“I was more of a middle-distance (800-meter) runner,” he says. “In high school and college, I thought cross-country was too long.

“I was never as strong in cross-country as in track, but I had a limited perspective of what it took to do well in the longer distances.”

In 2009, the first year for Champaign-Urbana to host the marathon, Sebestik decided to enter the half-marathon.

“I got hooked on the atmosphere and the training that went with it,” he says.

*****

Mahomet barber Jeff Frederick (who operates Freddie’s Barber Shop) keeps getting faster as he gets older.

His third venture at a full-marathon was Saturday and his time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 13 seconds placed him 200th overall.

His first attempt at the 26.2-mile distance resulted in a time of 4:09 and his followup marathon was 3:53.

This year, he dropped his time by nearly a mile per minute, running 22 minutes quicker overall.

Even when he is surrounded by a thousand other competitors, Frederick is by himself. He doesn’t partner up with a running buddy.

“I’m solo even on my training runs,” he says. “It’s the best time to get away and think.”

He is thinking he won’t wait too long to get back in action.

Frederick plans to run the Chicago Marathon in October.

In high school, Frederick was a short-distance sprinter.

Years after graduating, he eventually developed a Bucket List.

“At first, I was running to get in shape,” he says. “About five years ago, I ran my first half-marathon. That was a Bucket List item.

“When I accomplished that, I thought I might as well go for a full marathon.”

His training regime has changed.

“I used to take two or three days a week off,” Frederick says, “but this training period, I ran about every day.”

That Bucket List still has some unchecked items.

“My ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston,” Frederick says, “and the plan is maybe I’ll do some triathlons.”

*****

Katie Brown, a third-grade teacher at Mahomet’s Lincoln Trail School, joined her younger sister Sarah for back-to-back weekend races.

They participated in the Mini-I Challenge, running the 5K race on Friday and the 10K race on Saturday.

It was their fourth year of competing locally and the experience was their best.

“In years past, we prepared for the race by getting out our raincoats, Ziploc bags for our phones and mentally preparing to get drenched the entire race,” says Katie Brown. “Staying dry this year and seeing the sunshine made such a difference to our experience and made it much more enjoyable.”

The sisters were concerned about their preparation.

“Usually, my sister and I train a few months before the races to ensure we can run it, as well as make it a more comfortable and enjoyable run on race day,” Katie Brown says. “However, with having a second and third winter this year, we were unable to train outside much of the time, as we were either sick or it was snowing or too cold for us.

“We take group fitness classes at the Y, which helped build our endurance, but up to race day, we were entirely unsure if we would be able to run both races without stopping and walking some. But due to the amazing sunshine and our perseverance of not wanting to stop — plus a great music playlist created by my sister — we were able to keep running until we crossed both finish lines.”

They run for the enjoyment and companionship, not other motives.

“Honestly, we don’t ever look at our times or think about goal times,” Katie Brown says. “Our goal is to run the race together and cheer each other on. It is more of a fun sister bonding activity than anything.

“We love looking back on the memories we’ve shared each race. Looking back on the race when the rain was pouring in the same direction we were running, staying huddled in the car until it was immediately race time, running out and making it to our corral just in time, going to the race expo and getting our favorite Great Harvest cookies, or eating at Cracker Barrel with our mom and dad after the race, but shivering in soaking wet clothes after the race.

“Crossing the finish line together is what I look forward to the most.”

They were successful in the 5K race, clocking identical times of 35 minutes and 7 seconds while finishing in the upper half among female competitors.

In the 10K event, Katie Brown was timed in 1 hour, 14 minutes and 24 seconds, with her sister one second behind. In that race, they were near the upper half.

While the sisters are close, they are not always in total agreement.

“I’ve done one half-marathon, but have yet to convince her to run 13.1 miles with me,” Katie Brown says.

She is not giving up hope.

“It’ll happen eventually, just give me time,” she says.

History is on her side.

“Ever since junior high track, I loved to run,” Katie Brown says. “I started out as a sprinter, but realized in college, distance was what I loved more.

“My sister on the other hand, was skeptical at first, but as I kept persuading — begging — her to run with me, she finally realized why I enjoyed it, and hasn’t looked back.”

*****

M-S school nurse Nita Bachman — “I’m the one and only,” she says — follows a particular plan when she and her running partner, Denise Reese, step to the starting line.

“We do a run-walk interval,” Bachman says. “We run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute for the whole race. We try to stick to it.

“The theory is it’s a little easier on your joints.”

Their objective remains unchanged.

“Our goal is to finish,” Bachman says.

Their mission was accomplished in Saturday’s 10K event.

Reese finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes and 41 seconds. Bachman, in her 18th year as the school nurse, was right behind in 1 hour, 14 minutes and 42 seconds.

They ran about 8 minutes quicker than they did previously in a distance that translate into about 6.2 miles.

“There’s something about being involved with a race that brings out the competitive juices,” Bachman said. “Continuing to train has its benefits.”

The women run three times a week.

In high school at Tuscola, Bachman was a sprinter.

“I never had any desire to run any distance,” she says.

She started with a 5K and has doubled the distance. She not looking to run 26-plus miles.

“I’m 60 years old. I don’t feel I have to prove I can do something,” she says.

One highlight was something she observed while competing last weekend.

“I saw a Mahomet police officer helping with the course, watching traffic an intersection,” Bachman says.

 

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