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Runners chase the sun in annual race, fitness walk

Runners hit the racecourse Thursday, June 8 for the annual Chasing the Sun 5K Race and Fitness Walk.

The event served as an opportunity for people to help support educational scholarships and programs provided by the New Lenox Community Park District and New Lenox Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s an overall fun, family environment,” said Trace Wrase, recreation supervisor for New Lenox Community Park District. “It’s kind of a race to kickoff the start of summer.”

This year’s race brought out an estimated 150 participants to partake in the annual event.

“We kind of have seen steady numbers,” Wrase said. “Actually, our older age groups have been getting pretty popular. Our over 60 age has been getting larger every year. We’ve got more active adults out there willing to run, to stay active, to stay healthy. Overall, it’s just a fun race.”

New Lenox Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Emily Johnson said it’s exciting to see the way people come together for the race year after year.

“I think it’s encouraging about our community,” she said. “We have such a strong, engaged community, and it’s fun to see the businesses and residents come together on a weeknight to enjoy what New Lenox has to offer, take advantage of the [Village] Commons. It’s such a beautiful space.”

The festivities began with a pre-race warmup led by representatives from Pro Core Fitness.

Sherri Davis, of Manhattan, said she was hoping to run with her mother and have a good time.

“I bought her bib as a Mother’s Day present,” she said. “I did the race two years ago, and it was a great local event—well set-up and a lot of fun. We’ve both been running since she quit smoking 14 years ago.”

Davis said she has been looking forward to running the racecourse.

“It’s nice because it goes through the community of New Lenox, and it starts and stops right in the [Village] Commons, so it’s easy to access,” she said.

Jackson Waters, 20, of New Lenox, came in first to cross the finish line.

“This is my fifth year doing it, and it feels great to come here every time and just have fun,” he said. “I never expect to win, it’s nice to be the first guy.”

Waters said it’s a pretty course to run.

“I like the course a lot,” he said. “It’s got a lot of turns in it—twists and turns. It’s got a few hills at the end, but I like that. It’s got a nice downhill finish to it.”

Tera Gebhardt, of New Lenox, registered as the first female to finish the race.

“It’s great to see so many people in New Lenox out here racing,” she said.

Gebhardt said it’s important to show support for organizations making a difference locally.

“I have two little girls that they do everything for the park district,” she said.

Following the race, a post-race party ensued in the Village Commons.

Top entrants partaking in community team challenge took home a prize and participants competing in corporate team challenges won the rights to the traveling trophy.

As for those competing as individuals, the Top male and female runners in each age group earned a medal and overall winners took home special prize packages.

Anyone participating in the race with a stroller was entered in a special category.

Tera’s husband, Will Gebhardt said it was fun having qualified as the first participant with a stroller to cross the finish line.

“We’ve done it as a family—my daughter’s three and half, and we’ve done it ever since she was an infant,” he said. “It’s the fourth year we did it, so it was fun.”

This year was Will’s fourth time coming in first place in the stroller category.

Will said knowing his wife did well in the race brought great meaning to him.

“She did really well,” he said. “[I’d like to] give her props. She’s the reason I run. If she didn’t run, I probably wouldn’t do it.”

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