"Mother Nature was on our side today serving up perfect spring weather for the record field of participants," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "This event reflects the true spirit of Chicago with a festive running environment and great cooperation with our partners, sponsors and volunteers. You couldn't ask for a better way-and a better day-to kick off the running season in Chicago."
Running his first race in Chicago, Atmani surprised pre-race favorite and four-time U.S. Olympic team member Abdi Abdirahman by matching him stride-for-stride, surrendering only a slight lead between the third and fourth miles before overtaking the Olympian with a half mile to go. Atmani, who was the fourth American finisher and 16th overall at the New York City Marathon last fall in 2:19:36, was one of the more than 130 athletes taking part in the Elite Club Competition as a member of the Indianapolis-based Athletic Annex team.
"This was my first time running in Chicago and I really enjoyed the competition and the course," said Atmani, a native of Morocco who became a U.S. citizen a year ago. "Hopefully I will come back to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in the fall."
It was a tight race as second place went to David Adams of Lincoln, NE, just three seconds behind Atmani (23:21), followed by Abdirahman in third (23:30), Thomas Frazer of Lake Forest, IL, in fourth (23:30), and Jeremy Criscione of Sterling Heights, MI, in fifth (23:32).
Lucas battled with Chicago area native Delilah DiCrescenzo to win a hotly contested women's race featuring numerous lead changes among the top three. The former North Carolina State All-American ultimately prevailed by 12 seconds over runner-up DiCrescenzo (25:49). Early race leader Diane Nukuri-Johnson, a Burundian Olympian based in Iowa City, IA, finished third (26:11), followed by Melissa White of Sterling Heights, MI, in fourth (26:28), and Nicole Blood of Annandale, NJ, in fifth (27:16). The top four women's finishers all ran faster than the winning times from the previous five years.
"I have been battling back from injuries and I couldn't be happier with the time and the performance," said Lucas. "This is a boost of confidence as I prepare for the 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer. I had never been to Chicago before and tried to take in as much of the city and the course as I could, although the last couple miles were a little hazy as I was just going for the win."
The fourth annual Elite Club Competition featured 30 of the top USA Track & Field-member racing teams from across the Midwest and as far away as California. The club competitors, including race champion Atmani, contributed to one of the most competitive fields in event history. The Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks Distance Project won both the men's and women's elite club titles. The men posted a combined finish time of 1:35:37 (among their top four finishers) and an average team time of 23:55, led by fifth place finisher Criscione. The women netted a combined finish time of 1:23:10 (among their top three finishers) and an average team time of 27:44, led by fourth place finisher White. Runner-up went to Naperville Running Company of Naperville, IL, on the men's side (1:36:15) and Three Rivers Racing of Ft. Wayne, IN, on the women's side (1:25:52).
The first-ever Media Challenge was held and included 33 members of area broadcast and print media participating in today's race, won by Team Lead Stories captained by WLS-ABC 7 reporter John Garcia, with an average team finish time of 39:19 among its 11 team members. Second place went to Team Shamrock (42:24), captained by WMAQ-NBC 5 manager of news and content development Matt Piacente, followed by Team Bair Feet (43:29), captained by WGN reporter Dina Bair. Bank of America and Nike made a $10,000 donation to the Chicago Park District to support its summer running programs in honor of the media's participation.
Top 10 Male Finishers
1. Abdelaaziz Atmani, 30, Indianapolis, IN 23:18
2. David Adams, 23, Lincoln, NE 23:21
3. Abdi Abdirahman, 35, Tucson, AZ 23:30
4. Thomas Frazer, 30, Lake Forest, IL 23:30
5. Jeremy Criscione, 24, Sterling Heights, MI 23:32
6. Mike Reneau, 33, St.Paul, MN 23:36
7. Jordan Fife, Bloomington, IN 23:39
8. Adu Dentamo, Bloomington, IN 23:42
9. Jed Christiansen, Greenville, PA 23:43
10. Robert Scribner, Sterling Heights, MI 23:52
Top 10 Female Finishers
1. Julia Lucas, 28, Eugene, OR 25:37
2. Delilah DiCrescenzo, 29, New York, NY 25:49
3. Diane Nukuri-Johnson, 27, Iowa City, IA 26:11
4. Melissa White, 30, Sterling Heights, MI 26:28
5. Nicole Blood, 23, Annandale, NJ 27:16
6. Laura Farley, 28, Carmel, IN 27:34
7. Jessica Monson, 25, Burlington, WI 27:41
8. Katie Fenstermaker, 29, South Bend, IN 27:44
9. Erin Richard, 26, Sterling Heights, MI 27:52
10. Chantelle Wilder, 26, Los Gatos, CA 28:16
2012 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K results and photos are available at shamrockshuffle.com.