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Fox Valley Marathon Update: Barefoot Runner From Virginia Wins Race

More than 2,000 participants gathered Sunday for the Fox Valley Marathon, the Half Marathon and the Fall Final 20 run. The runners traveled through the Tri Cities, down to Aurora and back again on the course.

Fox Valley Marathon winner Tim Cunningham crossed the finish line while barefoot in downtown St. Charles on Sunday morning. He didn’t lose his shoes along the way—he ran the entire 26.2 miles without them.

“It was kind of a perfect day to run,” said the Charlottesville, VA resident, whose race time was 2:56:24. “The bridges were a little rough, a little slick at times, but it was good.”

It was the 15th marathon for Cunningham, who spent the past year building up calluses on his feet. He started running barefoot when he could not afford five-toe ; though he can afford the shoes now, he sometimes prefers to race without them, even in wet conditions.

“The rain is great,” said Cunningham, a trained clown who represented the Clowns Without Borders charity during the race. “I usually have to ice my feet after a run, but it’s nice and cold.”

Cunningham was among more than 2,000 runners who participated in the . Many of them, including Maryann Stinton of St. Charles, had goals in mind during race training.

“This is my second half-marathon in one year,” said Stinton, “If I can beat myself, I’m happy.”

She wanted to set a new personal record in the Half Marathon, which she achieved by running with a time of 2:22:28.

“I came in fifth in my age group!” she said. “I’m usually 100th in my age group.”

Eyes on the Prize

Mollye Shanel of St. Charles ran the Fall Final 20 as a prelude to her participation in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9. She ran the same event in 2010 with a time of 2:34 and placed third in her age group. She wanted to at least repeat that performance this year.

The dedication paid off—Shanel came in fifth overall for women with a time of 2:44:37 in the 20-mile race.

“My mom and my grandma are here as my support system,” Shanel said.

Shanel’s mother, Donna Shanel of St. Charles, said her role is to be there when her daughter “needs somebody” during races and to keep spirits up.

“No negative!” said Shanel’s grandmother, Rose Doneske of St. Charles regarding their support team approach.

Young Run

Parental support also factored large in the Kids Marathon, which was a new event this year. More than 300 youngsters ages 6 to 13 ran 1.2 miles on Sunday to cap off a summer-long effort to run an entire marathon in a series of short distances.

Eleven-year-old Kate Schildmeyer and her brother, Luke Schildmeyer, 8, joined others at the starting line just before the race began.

“We’ll see you guys at the finish line!” yelled their father, Greg Schildmeyer of St. Charles.

Their mother, Jill Schildmeyer said her children ran the half-mile around their neighborhood block to log the marathon distance during the summer.

“Luke loves running,” Jill Schildmeyer said. “One of his older sisters said ‘You can’t run’ and he went out and ran four miles. He’s just really excited about it.”

Kate wanted to run it because she’s a member of the cross country team at Wredling Middle School.

“This gives them a taste of organized races,” Jill Schildmeyer said of the Kids Marathon. “Maybe it will click with them.”

At the finish line, the Schildmeyers waited about 10 minutes with cameras in hand to shoot photos of their children. Luke crossed the line, grinning and speechless with excitement.

“Luke! Luke!” Jill Schildmeyer said. “Hey, good job! You surprised me when I saw you coming around the corner.”

A few minutes later, Kate crossed the finish line.

“At the beginning of the race it was kind of crowded,” Kate said. “I tried to keep at steady pace and at the end, I sprinted."

About the Race

The races proved popular in the running community. Tony Andracki, event spokesman, said registration for the Marathon, the Half Marathon and Fall Final 20 filled up within four months and he estimated that as many as 35 percent of marathon runners were attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

The majority of runners were from Illinois, but several came from other states including Texas, Michigan and Minnesota and Iowa and several participants were from Canada.

For more information about the races, visit www.foxvalleymarathon.com. For official race results, click here.

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