Local runner Jeff Jonaitis happy to lend a hand in marathon
BY DALE BOWMAN For Sun-Times Media October 5, 2012 7:56PM
5-2-10/Palos Heights Jeff Jonaitis, Tinley Park, takes 2nd place in the Palos Bank Southwest Half Marathon along Route 83 in Palos Heights, IL on Sunday May 2, 2010. TIN_paloshalmar_P7/sports Matt Marton/SouthtownStar
When: Sunday. Wheelchair start, 7:20 a.m. Start of runners, 7:30-8 a.m.; Wave 1 starts at 7:30; Wave 2 starts at 8.
Where: Begins and ends on Columbus in Grant Park, as far north as Addison, as far west as Damen, as far south as 35th.
Who: 45,000 marathoners.
Radio/TV: 670-AM, Ch. 5
Men’s best (Chicago): 2:05:37, Moses Mosop, Kenya, Oct. 9, 2011.
Men’s world record: 2:03:38, Patrick Makau, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2011, Berlin Marathon.
Women’s best (Chicago): 2:17:18, Paula Radcliffe, Great Britain, Oct. 13, 2002.
Women’s world record: 2:15:25, Radcliffe, April 13, 2003, London Marathon.
Updated: November 7, 2012 6:09AM
Instead of coaching his high-school runners on Sunday during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Jeff Jonaitis will be doing his part to help the elite women as a pacemaker.
“It is an honor to be able pace a group of women who are probably some of the fastest ever — it is definitely an honor,’’ Jonaitis said Thursday evening as he readied his young children for bed.
But also a deserved honor. Think old school.
Jeremy Borling, director of communications for the marathon, invited Jonaitis to be a pacer. Both ran for schools in the same district: Borling at Sandburg and Jonaitis at Andrew.
“He’s been an elite local athlete for probably 10 years,’’ Borling said. “He’s run the course. He knows the course.’’
In fact, in 2009, Jonaitis qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trails with a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 2 seconds in the Chicago Marathon. At the Trails, he ran his personal best (2:17:56), but finished 41st, up from 92nd in 2007.
“To make the national meet like that is something very special,’’ Jonaitis said.
He also was the 2009 Memphis Marathon champion.
So he feels prepared.
“I am pretty comfortable,’’ Jonaitis said. “I can’t say my training is too marathon-specific. It shouldn’t be a problem.’’
Running is his life. He lives with his family in Tinley Park and teaches physical education at an elementary school in Homer Glen. On the side, he helps to coach the cross country team at Sandburg.
For the last several years, Sandburg has run in the marathon’s high-school competition in the last miles of the course. Jonaitis expects his runners to contend for a medal.
“While I am out on the course our guys will be out there, and it will be kind of cool,’’ Jonaitis said. He meant in the sense of being neat, but it also applies to the weather.
“The funny thing is it is supposed to be the same temperature at when I ran it [in 2009],’’ Jonaitis said.