Crossroads marathon a success despite cold temperatures
By Anthony D. Alonzo Post-Tribune correspondent April 17, 2013 9:10PM
Crown Point resident Seth Aydt crosses the finish line as the first runner to complete the half marathon of the Crossroads of Northwest Indiana Marathon in Lowell on Sunday, April 14.
Updated: May 19, 2013 7:49AM
Like the temperatures during the Crossroads of Northwest Indiana Marathon on Sunday, many of the 357 participants in the event’s half and full marathon were warming up in expectation of greater things down the road.
The third running of the Crossroads, which kicked off at Lowell’s Freedom Park at 7:30 a.m. to chilly conditions, featured courses that served as stepping stones and miles that made memories for emotional first-timers.
Crossroads founder, and new Calumet Striders president, Frank Johnson called the event a “dream come true” and said the region’s first marathon would help put the area on the map for runners from across the United States. And some of those individuals are in training for high-profile marathons.
“They’ve really been behind this and they want to see the event grow year after year,” Johnson, a longtime area runner, said about Lowell and Cedar Lake residents. “You see the police force out here volunteering ... that makes it really easy for me.”
“Hill yeah!” was the slogan etched into Crossroads participation medals. The battle cry refers to the long, gradual incline that southbound Cline Avenue in Lowell presented runners before they turned into the finish line shoot near Freedom Park’s skate park.
This year’s Crossroads benefitted the charitable group Organization for Autism Research.
The full marathon — officially 26 miles and 385 yards — traced a course through rural south Lake County from Lowell to Cedar Lake and back. Runners noted the surprisingly varied terrain of smooth straightaways, slight rolling hills and the valley, where Cedar Lake offered scenic views.
For Valparaiso resident Trish Stanton, her fifth marathon run was a charm. She was the first female to complete the 26 miles, crossing the finish line at 3:44:14.9.
“I (appreciated) all of the support along the course and all my friends that cheered me on,” said Stanton, 41. “They are very important.”
Other runners noted that the Cal Striders support post included more cowbell and cheers than ever before. Most importantly, though, Stanton hopes to have people cheering her on at the Boston Marathon. She was one of the Crossroads participants whose time qualified her for next year’s major event.
“That was my goal,” she said with a smile.
Despite the chilly gusts she encountered, Stanton noted an improvement in the weather: the race temperatures were headed toward the upper 60s by the time the sun started burning through the grey cloud cover.
Goshen participant Jake Gillette, 26, dashed through the inflatable finish-line arch as some half marathoners were completing their event. Initially going unrecognized, the tall, lanky runner won the marathon with a time of 2:41:40.3, besting Valparaiso resident and runner-up John Borman by more than 19 minutes.
“Many times you see people doing marathons in their 30s and 40s,” said Gillette, who was a previous pace-runner at the Chicago Marathon. “I think sometimes (20-something runners) focus on shorter events like 10Ks, 5Ks and half marathons.”
Hebron runner Jeff Mescal, 47, the event’s previous winner, was in Boston preparing for that marathon and would have been a contender at Lowell, according to Gillette. Mescal earned a 2:47 finish in Monday’s race.
Through online communications, Johnson said he learned that local participants in the Boston Marathon were not affected by the twin explosions that occurred near the event’s finish line on Monday, though Highland resident Beth Roche was injured after watching her daughter cross the finish line. Three people were confirmed dead and more than 170 injured by the bombings.
Crown Point resident Seth Aydt, 30, led all half marathoners with a 1:15:33.6 finish in Lowell. That total meant he averaged 5:46 per mile. He said he made sure he kept energy in reserve and tempered his early-race pace.
“This was my first race of the year and I’m happy with it,” said Aydt, a runner since he was in third grade. “My training has been going pretty good. I was shooting for right around 1:20.”
Chrys Davis, 39, was the first female to complete the half, crossing the finish line at 1:35:45.9. Fifteen-year-old Hope Myroup, a South Central freshman, was the leader among under-19 participants and finished about 40 seconds behind Davis, of Valparaiso.
On her first attempt at running a half marathon, Griffith resident Emily Doehring 46, brought a large contingent of friends and family who cheered her on while holding signs bearing motivational and zany sayings.
She bent over and cried after crossing the finish line. Not a contender in the top 25, she still characterized the event as overwhelming and said her crying was with tears of joy.