Profile on Julie Sibley

Profile on Julie Sibley

How many years have you been running?

Technically I started running in 1993 when I was a junior in high school.  I joined the cross country team because I wanted to try to be “sporty” and they didn’t cut anyone from the team.  I couldn’t run a mile without stopping that first summer.   I usually tell people I started running in 1998 – that was the year I ran my first Chicago Marathon.

Who inspired you?

I really didn’t have any outside inspiration.  I had never played sports growing up and I thought it might be nice to be a part of a team and make new friends.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?

I graduated ISU in 1999 and instead of returning home to the suburbs like all of my college friends I decided to stay in BloNo.  I joined the LRC as a way to meet people with similar interests.  I think Kirby Cheek is primarily responsible for making sure I attended as many events as possible.

Tell me about your first race.

I definitely don’t remember my first cross country race or any of my early 5Ks, but my first Chicago Marathon will always be special.  I raised money for and trained with Team in Training –  I ran with the group downtown on the Lakefront and also in Normal.  On race day both of my parents were there and I finished in 5:35.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?

This might get a little repetitive, but the Chicago Marathon is my favorite race.  I love every step:  the neighborhoods, the crowds, all of the familiar faces.  I have run it 19 times from 1998 to 2017.  I would have a 20 year streak but in 2015 I missed it so I could go spectate a local legend (a.k.a. Dennis Killian) as he completed the Ironman World Champship in Kona.

Julie celebrating after her Boston qualifying performance at the Illinois Marathon

What race really sticks in your mind (for one reason or another?)

Marathon to Marathon in Iowa this past June will probably be one of my top memories for a very long time.  I finished my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states and over 20 friends from BloNo made the trip with me.  I also turned 40 the same weekend – so it was a great a party all weekend long.

*Just a quick author’s note because Julie’s being way too modest here…but yes, you are reading that correctly; she did just say she’s run at least one marathon in each U.S. State (although I’m pretty sure she’s run way more than that). Julie is a member of the exclusive 50 States Marathon Club. 

Do you have a favorite route that you run?

We have a route from Fleet Feet Sports Bloomington that we call the “W.”  I don’t have a great sense of direction and I love that after four years I could probably run it with my eyes closed.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?

A few years ago I recently completed my bucket list race:  The Madrid Marathon.  I’m a part-time Spanish teacher and I spent four summers studying

Julie running the Indy Marathon. Anyone who says running isn’t fun clearly isn’t doing it right.

in Madrid while I earned my Master’s degree.  I had always wanted to go back to run the marathon.  I’m currently booked to run the 2019 Antarctica Marathon.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?

I really enjoyed volunteering at the We Care Half Marathon finish line.  I loved putting medals around the necks of runners as they finished – especially our training program participants that had just completed their first half marathon.  I love sweaty hugs and seeing their smiles.

What are you training for right now?

Depending on when this is published, I’m running the JFK 50 Miler on November 18th and doing the Dopey Challenge in January.  If you can’t tell I tend to gravitate towards the longer distances – I really enjoy long, slow, distance and the feeling you get when you get to the finish line after challenging your body in an incredible way.

Do you have a friend who would make a great profile, or do would you like to be featured? If so, let us know in the comments below!

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ABC#133, 11-11-17, for Adopt-A-Family

Great day! Thanks so much to the 41 participants who joined us at Pat & Stacy Sheridan’s home on November 11 to support the Adopt-A-Family program with donations totaling $810. This will provide a great Christmas for our assigned family. Those that submit their donations to their corporate matching gift program will help Adopt-A-Family even more. And thanks to Pat & Stacy for a great job of hosting this event.

At 8:00, Lisa Sparks thanked everyone and introduced Stacie Killian, a 29 year volunteer at Adopt-A-Family. Stacie thanked us and told us more about the program and how it operates. It was great to hear how much is accomplished and how carefully the program is administered. For more information on the Adopt-A-Family program, go to: http://www.childrenshomeandaid.org/holidaygiftdrive-central

Another pre-run activity was the awarding of the “ABC Big Dog” traveling trophy to Peg Stark for her faithful support of the ABC run program over the years. Peg has attended 53 ABC runs, including eight of the nine runs this year. Peg almost always brings yummy food to share and has been an inspiration by getting right back to supporting ABC runs after her knee-replacement surgery a few years ago and showing the benefits of walking/running.

After a group picture, we all headed out for either a 5-mile street/constitution trail adventure led by Merlin Anderson or a Ewing Park trail adventure led by Pat Sheridan. Meg Anderson served as the running photographer while logging a few miles on both grass and pavement.

Back at the Sheridan home, we were treated to a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes prepared by Jay Sparks, coffee cake and breakfast casserole from Meg Anderson, breakfast casserole and fruit from Stacy Sheridan, breakfast apple cinnamon crumb cake from Peg Stark, Casey’s breakfast pizza from Sharri Pelarske, chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling, homemade bread from Laurel Schumacher, cupcakes from Raymond Sevier, chocolate milk from Ted O’Neil, bananas from Sandra Sharp, and much more! I didn’t get the names of all the food providers but it was all so good!

We have completed thirteen years of ABC runs and had another really great year. Total contributions for the nine ABC runs in 2017 totaled $12,192. The total for all 133 ABC runs is $122,193. We have supported 28 charities. The top 10 charities are:
$18,014 – St. Jude (15 runs)
$17,651 – The Baby Fold (14 runs)
$12,582 – Timber Pointe Easter Seal Camp (8 runs)
$9,864 – The Seedling Theatre (8 runs)
$8,472 – Sugar Grove Nature Center (12 runs)
$7,918 – McLean County Child Protection Network (10 runs)
$7,259 – Heartland Head Start (10 runs)
$6,830 – Adopt-A-Family (8 runs)
$6,427 – Scott Early Learning Center (9 runs)
$5,223 – Boys & Girls Club (9 runs)

Thanks so much for all your support!

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ABC#132, 10-1-17, for Heartland Head Start

Great event at Sugar Grove Nature Center on October 1: 68 participants donated an awesome total of $1,020 to Heartland Head Start which will be used for playground equipment! Thanks so much to everyone who attended, and to those who sent donations, for all your support.


Thanks much to Angela Funk (Director, Sugar Grove Nature Center) for getting things ready for us even though she could not join us Sunday morning. Thanks also to Sharon Cochran (member of Friends of Heartland Head Start) for helping host and coordinating Heartland Head Start.


We had a great mix of ABC run veterans and newbies (15 new ABC participants). Thanks for joining us. To encourage participation, we again spread the word of a competition among fitness groups (LRC excluded) as to who would have the most participants. The “Be Strong” group won again by having 14 participants, beating Gold’s Gym, Often Running racing team, Fleet Feet runners, and others. The Be Strong group did that without their leader, Drew Whitted, who was away at the World Powerlifting Championships where he set a world record deadlift of 662 pounds. Wow!
Another special event this year included a book signing by Randy Sharer of the Pantagraph who recently wrote a book about Craig Virgin, a Lebanon Illinois native, who won the world cross-country championship twice.
The menu was awesome as usual with casseroles, coffee cake, bagels & cream cheese, fruit, cookies, snack items, coffee, and so much more. With so many food contributions, I was unable to keep track of who brought what. Thanks to DoubleTree hotels for giving us a batch of cookies.


The funds raised by all ten runs for Heartland add up to a nice total of $7,259. Thanks a million to every participant for your fellowship, sharing food, and generous financial support. Your support helps Heartland Head Start achieve their mission to “enhance the lives of children and families by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for 3-5 year old children and their families who meet the federal guidelines in McLean and Livingston counties in Central Illinois.” For more on Heartland Head Start, visit http://heartlandheadstart.org/

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ABC Run#131, for Seedling Theatre, 8-12-17

ABC Run #131 on August 12 was a success with $819 donated to Seedling Theatre thanks to the generosity of everyone involved. Thanks much to:
(a) Laurel & Larry Schumacher for being awesome hosts.
(b) 34 attendees (and 8 other contributors) that donated a total of $819.
(c) Often Running, for donating some cool items for our drawing.
(d) Sharrie Pelarske & Laurel Schumacher, for donating harvest baskets for our drawing.
(e) Seedling Theatre for donating tickets to an upcoming performance for our drawing.
(h) everyone who brought food! Too many to recall but Megan Ebert, Missy Adams, and Mary Pinkham won harvest baskets that were awarded at random to food contributors.


Seedling Theatre is a wonderful theatrical program for children & young adults & adults with disabilities, as well as their able bodied peers. Each year Donna Anhalt, the Seedling Theatre director, sends a heart-felt note in appreciation for all our support. This one says it best: “I don’t know quite how to say thank you in the most appropriate manner, so please just know from the bottom of my heart how grateful the entire Seedling Families are for what you are doing for their children. I listen to their stories quite frequently about how Seedling has affected their lives. It is always heartwarming, occasionally teary-eyed and sometimes even funny. Believe me, these families are overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors for Seedling Theatre and sincerely appreciate your efforts. So, from the depths of my heart…..thank you”.

ABC runs just keep rolling along. After 131 ABC runs, all of us who support ABC runs have collectively raised $120,363 to help 27 different local children’s charities. Eight of these ABC runs have generated a total of $9,864 for Seedling Theatre. Thanks a million to everyone who has supported these extremely worthwhile causes.

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Profile on Ryan Leuty

Profile on Ryan Leuty

How many years have you been running?
Started running in high school.  I have been an off-and-on “runner” for most of my life. In the last year, I’ve been training diligently for the first time ever.

Who inspired you?
I read Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It over the winter.  The book covers the psychology of sports and recounts several experiences of professional and elite athletes overcoming challenges.  It highlights the mental aspect of endurance sports and when things start to get rough, I always remember that your mind will give up way before your body will.

I’m inspired by so many of our local runners and LRC club members – too many to mention really.  I will mention Andy Williams though.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
Lake Run Club is just one more way that Rachelle Leuty, my wife, enriches my life.  She became an active member of the club and I’ve enjoyed the benefits of our family membership

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
My favorite local race is Park to Park.  It is so cool to take off running down Main Street first thing on July 4th.  The course saves all the fun for the last few miles.  And the Corn Crib finish is so cool!

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
I ran the 800 and 1600 in high school as a freshman.  While I can’t remember my first race, there was one that was quit memorable.  Our track team had a Sub-5 Minute Mile Club and there were truly awful t-shirts that came with membership – orange shirt with baby blue print.  There was one shirt left.  A senior and I were both competing for the shirt.  The team hung up flyers around school and we had a very good turnout for the meet.  After 4 grueling laps I squeaked out a 4:52 mile and out kicked the senior in the last 200.  Several team members told me I should give the shirt to Matt since he was a senior.  I told them he should have been able to beat a freshman.  I still have the shirt.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I primarily stick to Constitution Trail.  It is so convenient and shielded from traffic.  However, AP Prescott took for a 10 mile run all over Normal and Bloomington.  We ran through neighborhoods and along roads.  It was terribly unorthodox.  But it reminded that it’s ok to wander a bit and I’ve incorporated that philosophy in to several runs since then.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
Well, I love my local races so much, that I’ve not had much incentive to look elsewhere.  But I just searched great races and the Reggae Marathon in Jamaica sounds awesome.  I’ve never run a marathon and would like to visit Jamaica – Irie.

Ryan during the run portion of the Route 66 Half Iron Man in 2017.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story? 
Not really.  Just the usual run-ins with cool animals [baby skunks was my favorite] and narrowly missed bowel-related disasters.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
Chilly Chili is definitely an unusual one.  I can still hear Dennis Killian yelling at me, “You’re doing it wrong!”  as I ran past his Spam stand.  One day I’ll run it just for fun..probably.   Race the Dead is another unique one that I really enjoy.  I’m a Halloween nut anyway, so the costumes, firepits and Fireball are right up my alley.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
I’ve helped out at the Kid’s Run for Fun several times.  It’s such a great opportunity for kids to be introduced to the sport of running.  It seems to grow each year, too.

What are you training for right now?
I’ve been focused on triathlon and just completed my A race for the year – Route 66 Half Iron in Springfield.  I’m certain that triathlon is one of the most absurd sports out there.  I just love it though.  Even though triathletes are the b*stards of all three disciplines, the good folks at Often Running still let me run with them on Thursdays.

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ABC Run#130, 7-16-17, for St. Jude

ABC Run #130 was hosted by Meryl Brown on July 16. A nice total of $1,647 was donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital thanks to the generosity of 26 attendees plus 7 runners that could not make it but donated anyway. The donations will help members of the “We got the runs” team meet or exceed their fund-raising goals. More importantly, the donations help kids by helping St. Jude provide free lifesaving care and also helping St. Jude continue its groundbreaking research. The kids can benefit even more when employees or retirees of a company such as State Farm submit their donations for the company match.

The venue was great: nice location, home, backyard, and pool. The weather was good for running and for using the pool.
The course was a relatively ordinary adventure heading West on the Constitution Trail to Vernon Avenue (2.5 miles from Meryl’s home). The menu was really great as usual. Thanks to Meryl Brown for hosting and all who provided additional food.
We’ve held a total of 15 ABC runs for St. Jude and the total of those runs is $18,014. The total for all 130 ABC runs is now $119,544. Thanks so much to everyone for all of your support!


ABC Run #131, to benefit The Seedling Theater will be held at the Schumacher home on Saturday, August 12 at 7:30 a.m. (doors open at 7:00).

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Profile on Paul Bliss

Profile on Paul Bliss

How many years have you been running?

I started running track and cross country in ’78 (39 years). I was in 8th grade and our PE teacher made our class run around the entire campus, maybe a mile, because a few 9th graders were misbehaving.

As we finished I found myself in the top five and my ego/confidence soared. I started running on my own in the mornings, a half mile run to the end of the street and back. I had no idea what I was doing but in my mind at the time I thought I was doing something important.

I wore my school clothes on these runs. Track season was just around the corner and I joined the team running the 660 yards on cinder tracks.

Who inspired you to start running?

Even though it was my PE teacher that was the catalyst to start me actually running, it was in the back of my mind that I recalled seeing the made for television movie The Loneliest Runner (’76) by Michael Landon. Landon used to run home from school every day racing to beat the bus because his abusive mom would hang his pee soaked sheets out of his top floor window for the world to see as punishment for wetting his bed.

He went on to be a successful collegiate track star. I thought I remembered he went on to run in the Olympics but I can’t find anything to verify that now.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?

Runners join running clubs. When I came out to Illinois to house hunt in May ’15 part of my checking out this community was to discover Parkside JHS hosted the IESA State cross country meet, Constitution trail, and meeting Heather and running with Merlin at Green Gables for the Thursday night run.

The Lake Run was that weekend but I left Friday, just missing my first possible local race. Park-2-Park ended up being my first local race just weeks later.

Steven Laning, Jamey Whitlow, Paul Bliss, and Gary Savage hanging out at a race in Nashville.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?

New York City Marathon (’87 and ’88) is my favorite marathon experience. The experience was so grand on every level.

The 3 million spectators through all five boroughs was beyond epic. It was such a great experience I came right back the following year to do it all again.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?  

There are so many but Boston ’16 was quite special because I got to share the experience with Andy Williams and Steve Laning in our almost daily training regimen, our travel group of Carol Pratt, Mitch Hobbs, Amber Ferre, Gene Harding, and so many others back home that followed us.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?

I did in Washington State. My daily go to course went along Deschutes river (5 minutes from my house) and park, home of the now closed Olympia/Rainier brewery, down to the Puget Sound where I’d run along the waterfront boardwalk and marina and around Capital Lake.

I’d often see bald eagles, deer, and a wide variety of birds and critters. The run was 6 miles and could easily be made into shorter/longer as desired.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?

Tokyo Marathon. Running is a great excuse to travel.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?

I did see a bear at close range on a bike trail run in town while I was running with my cross-country kids. I thought it was a dog at first and didn’t think much of it. My lead kid went by the bear before I realized holy smokes there’s a bear between me and my lead runner (50 meters or so)!

The bear took off in the bushes and we kept running as if nothing had happened. It took a while for it to sink in but the adrenaline eventually kicked in and I realized my disbelief.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?

When I lived in Guam (’84-’86) they had a race that still runs to this day called The Perimeter Relay, an eight-person team that goes around the entire island (8 x 26 miles) with exchanges about every 200 yards for 60 miles. That’s 7.5 miles and 60 x 200-yard sprinting legs for each runner.

Every exchange ridiculously chaotic as the van must floor it every time to get to the next exchange. Use your imagination to figure out how we took our potty breaks! Priceless. Excruciating leg pain the next few days but we all could hardly wait for the next year’s run.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?

I used to supervise a water station at mile 10 of the Capital City Marathon and Half in Olympia Washington aka the ’84 women’s Marathon Trials course. My cross-country team got $750 for handing out replenishment for two hours.

I really enjoyed watching the 2,000 runners go by but enjoyed even more watching my kids get excited helping other runners survive their running experience.

What are you training for right now?

My daughter graduates from Oregon in June then I’m taking her to Guam for a week where I served two tours in the Navy for 2 ½ years in ’84-‘86. There is a 5k there we plan to run. When I return Park-2-Park is my next race I’m training for.

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ABC#129/Multi-Sport Day

ABC#129/Multi-Sport Day on May 20 was a great success with $2,235 donated to Timber Pointe Outdoor Center! Although the weather was terrible and attendance was down to 40 compared with 108 last year, we lucked out by having some larger than usual donations and some donations from those that could not attend. Thanks so much to everyone who attended, donated, organized, brought food, and enhanced the day with your enthusiasm and friendship.

The stormy weather caused a number of adjustments, including two different start times for the run (note the two group photos). The first group left before 8:00, hoping to avoid getting too wet (it was already starting to rain when we took off). The weather forecast was for thunderstorms but we were lucky. Three of us (Gary Savage, Tamara Nelsen, and Merlin Anderson) ran the long course and experienced nothing worse than wind and rain and sleet except for one big clap of thunder near the end that made us hurry to the protection of Sterns Lodge.

When we entered Stearns Lodge, we noticed the small crowd appeared to be in party mode. I know Meg’s coffee cake is good but maybe not that good! Turns out, a contributing factor was that our organizers, Kevin McCarthy and John Pratt, tapped the keg after they made the decision to cancel the swim and the bike ride. Cool – craft beer for brunch! They also made the decision to hold the cookout as scheduled because the weather was clearing by late morning.

So what did Kevin McCarthy say about the change in plans (and tapping the keg early)?

Thank You! This was incredible. In spite of threatening weather, people came to the Multi-Sport Training Day to enjoy friendship and community and to support children with developmental needs. Friends from different clubs, with different affiliations were all in one place to enjoy being together and supporting our community. A truly great day!

Through the wonderful generosity of those that joined us and those that sent in contributions, we raised over $2,200 for Timber Pointe Outdoor Center and Easter Seals. And since we started this fun idea, Multi-Sport Day & ABC Runs have generated over $12,000 dollars for Timber Pointe and Easter Seals.

There are many to thank. The principal organizers are Merlin & Meg Anderson (ABC runs & Lake Run Club), John Pratt (Masters Swimming & Lake Run Club), Colleen Klein (Tri-Shark Triathlon), and yours truly Kevin McCarthy (Tri-Shark Triathlon Club and Lake Run Club). But this is truly a team event with many helpers needed to set up the swim course, set out beverages on the run course, lead bike routes, lead trail runs, man the grill, shop for food, order and deliver supplies, line up lifeguards, supply swim caps, ensure participant safety, etc. We may have canceled the swim and the ride but volunteers were still needed to be ready. Thank you!”

ABC Run #130 to benefit St. Jude will be on Sunday, July 16 at Meryl Brown’s home.

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ABC#128, 4-15-17, for The Baby Fold

April 15 had many happy returns. Great weather, great participants, and an awesome $3,078 donated to The Baby Fold by the 94 participants and three others that could not attend. Both the total attendance and the amount contributed are records for The Baby Fold ABC Runs.

Aimee Beam, VP of Development and PR at The Baby Fold, was a great host, greeting us as we arrived and making sure we had water and sports drink. Before we ran, we awarded a new traveling award for “ABC Top Team” based on participation.  This little award, a baton, spurred friendly competition to increase attendance. Be Strong, with 15 participants, won by edging out strong competition from Gold’s Gym, Often Running Racing Team. Fleet Feet, and 261 Fearless. After the group photos, we headed out for our run. Some did the 3-mile route up the trail to near I55 and back, some went to the end of the trail and back for a total of 7 miles, and some chose to go farther. Erin Furimsky was the most ambitious by covering 20 miles, including 11 miles before the official start time.

The post-run pot luck feast was great as usual, including coffee cake and a casserole from Meg Anderson, banana bars from Cindy Friedrich, cookies and cuties from Annette Lobdell, and more. The large turnout (44 more participants than last year) was a surprise, so Sharri Pelarske cut her run short to make a quick grocery run for bagels, cream cheese, and bananas. Thanks so much to everyone for making this event great fun and another huge success!

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ABC Run#127, 3-18-17

ABC Run #127 was Saturday, 3/19/17 at Robyn Walter’s home. Great event with a total of $825 donated by 42 runners that attended plus two runners that mailed a check. Thanks so much for supporting the McLean County Child Protection Network! If you are a State Farmer and you donated $25 or more, please submit your donation to State Farms matching program.

It was a good day to run – 37 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Runners chose between a 3-mile and a 6-mile route. Those that ran the six mile route got a refreshment stop (sports drink, water) at 3 miles. Kevin Fahling and Erin Furimsky turned this event into a 15 miler by clocking 9 miles before our official start, then were kind enough to slow down and let me run with them.  Back at the house, Robyn Walter and Gregg Chadwick were great hosts, organizing the food buffet and mixing mimosas. Once again, this was one of the most fantastic post-run food fests! Thanks much to the following runners for the great food:

Robyn Walter – spiced buckwheat pancakes, chocolate pumpkin muffins, mimosas
Gregg Chadwick – bubble & squeak (you’ll have to google this)
Meg Anderson – coffee cake, sausage/egg/hash brown casserole
Stacy Sheridan – egg/veggie casserole Dennis Roesch – bananas
Bruce Sutter – bagels & cream cheese
Katy MacMann – hulk muffins
Tammy Knippenberg – almond chocolate milk
Judy Bauman – fruit
Lisa Sparks – Watergate cake Kevin Fahling – chocolate chip cookies

Great event! Where else can you get such a great brunch with a great bunch of people and know that 100% of your donations go to a great cause?  We have now completed ten runs for the McLean County Child Protection Network (six of them hosted by Robyn & Gregg) with total donations of $7,918. The total for all 127 ABC Runs is $112,564. Thanks again for the food, donations, and friendship.

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