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Of the nearly 5,000 runners who participated in Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Healthy Driven races in 2016, three can say they crossed the finish line at all three locations – Naperville, Oswego and Plainfield.
And, Marcia Ayala (center in photo), Victoria Shink (left) and Mark Walker (right) say they’re going to give it a shot again in 2017.
The 2017 Healthy Driven Running Series features the Naperville Half Marathon & 5K; FraidyCat 5K, Ghost Run 10K & Meow Mile in Oswego; and Plainfield Harvest 5K Run/Walk & Kidz Miler.
Ayala, 48, a textile manufacturing executive, has taken part in numerous races over the years, including a marathon, triathlons and every Naperville Half Marathon since the first one in 2013.
“I don’t feel the need to achieve a personal record every year,” says Ayala. “I just want the times to be decent. I run more for fitness.”
For Ayala, family fun is also part of the Healthy Driven Running Series. Her husband Jorge and 9-year-old son Alejandro will join her in running the 2017 Plainfield Harvest 5K. Jorge and Alejandro will also run the 5K that’s been added to this year’s Naperville event. They’ll then go on to cheer mom as she finishes the Naperville Half Marathon. And in Oswego, mom and dad will decide which parent will run the FraidyCat 5K with Alejandro, while the other sets off solo on the Ghost Run 10K.
Like Ayala, Mark Walker, 44, a computer programmer from Plainfield, enjoys sharing the Healthy Driven experience with his son. Joey Walker, 8, ran the Plainfield Kidz Miler in 2016 and plans to do so again in 2017.
In addition, Walker has reaped the benefits of a “Healthy Driven” lifestyle. Since he began entering races in 2015, he’s lost about 35 pounds and lowered his blood pressure from borderline hypertension to normal.
Beyond the health advantages, Walker aims for personal records in his races.
“When I’m doing a 5K I try to place, which I did in the last five races,” he says. “I had been running in the low 8s (minutes per mile) but I recently ran a 7:45 mile.”
Walker will run the 5K in the Oswego and Plainfield Healthy Driven events, and the Naperville Half Marathon, along with the Chicago Marathon in October.
Victoria Shink, 36, of Yorkville says she pursued running as a hobby for years but was inspired to reach for a higher level by many of her in-laws who are also runners. This year she plans to run the 5Ks in Oswego and Plainfield, and the Half Marathon in Naperville.
“At the 8-mile mark at last year’s Half Marathon in Naperville, my mother-in-law ran out to cheer me on,” recalls Shink. “That was one of the best moments of the race.”
She may describe running as “a hobby” but she takes it seriously enough to work the Hal Higdon half-marathon training program into her schedule. And that’s on top of a full-time nursing job and doctoral studies on her way to become a nurse anesthetist.
Says Shink, “I’ve been to other races where it felt like a cattle herd. In these races you’re not crowded and there are lots of places for viewers and supporters. I was surprised at how much that motivated me.”
Giveaways and post-race munchies are also part of the fun. Walker says he was happy to see a men’s quarter-zip shirt as a giveaway at the Naperville Half Marathon.
“A little swag is always nice,” he says.
Here’s the Healthy Driven Running Series schedule and links for registering:
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