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Annual Titan Trot 5K benefits St. Mary educators

It was fitting that community members came out by the hundreds to participate in the third annual Titan Trot 5K and Dash—an event raising funds to support St. Mary Catholic School teachers. So often educators do not get the credit they deserve.

“It’s just an incentive for the teachers,“ event chairwoman Jamie Kucala said. “They’re hardworking, dedicated.”

Kucala said the race also serves as a great way to build community.

“We thought this would be a good way to get the family and children all involved,” Kucala said.

Roughly 300 people signed up to run in this year’s race at Willowview Park. Carleen Hilty, of Mokena, was preparing to hit the racecourse running in the Titan Trot.

“[I] do this for fun,” she said.

This year was Hilty’s third consecutive year participating in the run. She said it was important for her to show support for St. Mary teachers.

“All my kids went to St. Mary,” she said. “My last one graduated last year.”

Hilty said it’s nice to see so many familiar faces at the run.

“All the families are local,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to see everybody.”

Shawn O’Malley, of New Lenox, said he enjoys competing in the race.

“It’s a hard course because it’s hilly,” he said.

O’Malley’s oldest child graduated from St. Mary’s and his younger son, Emerson, is currently enrolled in the eighth grade.

O’Malley said holding the run is a good idea that benefitted the children.

“There’s no track program at St. Mary’s, so it’s good for the kids,” he said.

Chuck Murach, of Mokena, was participating in the race with his wife and their children, Laurel and Charlie. This year was Murach’s first time running in the Titan Trot.

“My kids go to St. Mary, so they’ve been telling us about it all year,” he said.

“I haven’t done it before. I know I can do it, I just don’t know how fast. I’m excited to try it out.”

Ryan Raddetz, of Tinley Park, said he decided to try the Titan Trot when looking around for local races.

“[I] have been [running a lot] this year, [I] just got into it,” he said.

Raddetz said he is hoping the Titan Trot gives him something to shoot for. By the race’s end, Raddetz said he was simply looking to finish.

“[It’s great] just to be out here on this beautiful day and gets some exercise and support the school,” he said.

The 5K Run/Walk consisted of eight heats divided by age and gender. Following that, a Kids’ Dash got underway.

Kucala said the race grows every year thanks, in part, to the community’s interest. Last year, the event raised more than $10,000.

“It’s a great way to get the community together, and it’s for a good cause,” Kucala said.

The festivities concluded with a post-race party.

Top male finishers in the adult division were Paul Mitoraj and William Gaus. Top female finishers in the adult division were Carrie Forystek and Kathryn Morris.

Mitoraj had the overall best time in the race, finishing in just 20 minutes and 9 seconds.

In the children’s division, Colin Vetor, 11, took the race in the male division and Jaylin Sustr, 9, claimed first place in the female division.

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