If he had his preferences, Chris Charhut would have preferred running in Peoria at this past weekend’s Class 3A State meet.
But running in his hometown Sunday was a good consolation prize for the Lake Forest High School senior, who for the second straight year crossed the finish line first at Sunday’s LEAD Red Ribbon 5-kilometer (3.25 mile) Race at Elawa Farm in Lake Forest.
“A lot of the team is here, and we all did the same things we would do for a race, stretching and warm-ups,” said Charhut, whose winning time was 16 minutues, 23.71 seconds. “It’s not a replacement for State, but it’s something to do.”
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Charhut wasn’t really challenged over the 5-kilometer course that winds through the Middlefork Savannah Forest Preserve, looking back as he made the final turn in to see if he had any company. The second place finisher, Todd Peabody, crossed in 17:06.72.
Not bad for someone who didn’t start running cross country in high school until his freshman year, and then initially only as a means to get in shape for lacrosse.
“I ended up liking it so much that I stuck with it,” said Charhut, who earned all-conference honors this season.
He would like to continue to run in college, even if it isn’t competitively. Exactly where that will be is up in the air.
“Come talk to me in December, I’ll have something to tell you,” he said with a laugh. “I’m applying to a lot of Division One schools, which would be kind of tough for me to run at. But if I don’t run on a college team, I will definitely do some kind of running club. I definitely want to keep doing it; it’s a lot of fun.”
It’s the kind of choices that mirror what LEAD, which helps parents and kids make informed choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol prevention.
“I think they have a good message to send to the community,” Charhut said. “Drug use and drug abuse, it’s really important especially at our school.”
Libertyville resident Jessy Scapone also fell into running quite by accident.
A gymnast in high school, friends would suggest going out for cross-country to Scarpone.
“I was like, no. So I guess I started a little late, but better late than never,” said Scarpone, who was the top female finisher and fifth overall.
A sophomore at College of Lake County, Scarpone began running a year ago, “just to get in shape. What better thing to do than run outside,” she said.
She ran a 5K race in late September under 20 minutes and hoped for the same this time around. Her time on Sunday was 19:46.11.
While her Dad found the LEAD race to continue her pursuits, she recognized the Red Ribbon moniker from her high school days, and likes the message it brings.
“It has a lot to do with staying in shape. If you’re going to stay in shape, why pollute your body,” she said.
For race results, visit this website.