Shuffle Marks the Beginning of Race Season

04/01/2008 - 16:13

Chicago Athlete

shamweb2.jpgBank of America celebrated the official opening of Chicago's outdoor running season today with the 29th annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. More than 22,600 runners completed the 8K urban race course and approximately 2,000 walkers took a 5K stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan. Cheering them on in Grant Park and along the race route were 65,000 fans and spectators. Brian Olinger, 24, of Westerville, Ohio won the men's race in 23:09 followed by 2007 champion Luke Watson, 27, of South Bend, Ind. who finished in 23:34. Annie Gasway, 30, of Gurnee, Ill. won the women's race in 29:03, just two seconds ahead of Chicagoan Claudia Becque, 30 (29:05).

Larry Porter, Jr., 39, of Springfield, Ill. was the only wheelchair racer registered in the 8K and earned his champion title in 39:48.

Olinger and Gasway were followed across the finish line by 22,600 runners, many getting their first taste of outdoor running after a long and snowy Chicago winter. Widely recognized as an official Chicago rite of spring, the celebratory event concluded in its traditional fashion with a lively post-race party at Buckingham Fountain featuring musical entertainment from popular local band, The Hat Guys.

"This race is marked on the calendars of local runners every year because of its celebratory atmosphere and the fact that it is the first major running event organized in the city each spring," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "It is the perfect kick-off to the outdoor running season and always attracts an energetic, enthusiastic and eager crowd. It's always refreshing to see the city come to life on race day."

Bank of America hosts two of the largest running events in the city, book ending the Shamrock Shuffle in the spring and the world renowned Bank of America Chicago Marathon in the fall. A total 30,000 participants registered for today's event while the Marathon anticipates closing its field at 45,000 registered runners later this spring.

"The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle is a terrific community event that reflects the spirit of this great city," said Bank of America Illinois President David Rudis. "Bank of America is excited to continue the tradition of both this event and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon."

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