By Kristin Boza
The Ridge Run is a fun event that has brought the neighborhood together for 40 years. Since the Chicago Area Runner’s Association (CARA) named the Ridge Run as a Runner’s Choice race in 2017, it’s been drawing the attention of serious runners from all over the Chicago area.
One of those runners is 37-year-old Kate DeProsperis of Clarendon Hills. An elite runner, DeProsperis chose the Ridge Run to help train for her second trip to the Olympic Marathon Trials later this year. Her latest marathon time clocked in at a speedy 2:42:49, and she’s running the Ridge Run 10K with the goal of achieving a personal best. Additionally, she will be offering a training run for local runners to learn from one of the fastest marathoners in the Midwest.
DeProsperis ran her first marathon in 1999 and has since shaved off over an hour from her time. She competed in the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, which is a competitive process in and of itself. “A set time standard will be announced and runners have approximately two to two-and-a-half years to attain that time in a certified race,” she said. “If you are able to hit that time, then you can compete in the Olympic Trials and have the chance to qualify for the Olympics. It is such an honor to be at the Trials because there are very few people who can hit the qualifying mark. When I qualified [for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials], I was the only female Illinois resident to compete.”
Only about 200 runners achieve the standards set by the Olympic committee to even attempt to qualify for the Olympics. “The professional runners will be the ones to go to the Olympics, but just making the trials is like the ‘Olympics’ for so many non-professional sub-elite marathoners like myself,” she said.
DeProsperis and her running team, Jenny Spangler Racing, chose to add the Ridge Run to their spring racing calendar because speed work is essential to marathon training. “Having good speed translates to faster marathon times, so we always work on speed in the spring and transition to longer runs as we approach the fall marathon,” she said. “It’s also a good way to get out of your comfort zone. I am not great at short distances, so it teaches me to just compete better and push myself in a way that’s different than the marathon.”
According to DeProsperis, the best way to prepare for a 5K or 10K is to slowly build up your distance and then gradually incorporate some fast running in your workouts. By adding fast running, it will help your legs respond better to faster speeds. It will also help with speed endurance, which you need for the 5 to 10K distances,” she said.