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Zero's the hero

The Firefly 5K was run on Thursday in Channahon.
The Firefly 5K was run on Thursday in Channahon.

CHANNAHON — Tuesday’s running of the Elite Rehabilitation Institute Firefly 5K proves that a mathematical impossibility can certainly exit.

Zero = one.

That was the case when Thomas Zero was the overall winner of this year’s race on the Channahon Park District grounds.

A 27-year old Oaklawn resident, Zero brought his competitive desire to the area when someone asked him to come out and run in the event.

“I run all over Chicago and all over the country for that matter,” Zero said. “My cousin lives out in Joliet and said that he was running this and asked if I wanted in. It was hard for me to turn it down.”

Zero’s winning run was just over 17 minutes. He was asked how important winning the race was to him.

“It’s not everything but it does make it a lot more fun. But I am out here to be competitive. I can be 1,000 out of 1,000 as long as I’m running strong.”

Zero said that his time was right on par with where he is at these days and that it feels good to shine, especially after a hard day.

“After a long day of work and an earlier workout, I love 17,” he said.

The top finishing woman has a more of a local angle to it. She’s Jessica Hopkins — a 28-year old cross country coach at Minooka Community High School under Kevin Gummerson. She admitted that she felt a little pressure to do well at the event.

“It kind of does because we just moved here. But then I come out here and see my neighbor out here and kids on the team and people who know who I am, so it does put some pressure on me,” she said.

Hopkins’ time was 19:15 and she said that is satisfactory.

“I thought I could have run a little faster than that,” she said. “But it’s O.K. for where I am now.”

Hopkins said that she’s just now getting back into the competitive circuit after dealing with a lingering hamstring injury in the past.

Before the Firefly 5K race, there was the annual Elite Rehabilitation Firefly 1 Mile Kids Run. The boys winner this year was Jared Bieker, a sixth grader attending Minooka Intermediate School and the girl who finished with the fastest time was Channahon seventh grader Hannah Knight.

It was the first competitive race for both, though Bieker does now run for the cross country team.

“My friend Tyler likes running and he got me interested. That and I’m fast,” Bieker said. “We run together in practice. I actually ran four miles already today.”

“He actually wanted to run in the 5K race tonight but I said no,” Jared’s dad, John, said. “That’s a lot of miles.”

Jared said that he slowly worked his way to the front of the pack and then stayed there in the race.

“I was third at the start until I got up to speed,” he said. “A little bit before the half-way point, I moved into second and then about with a quarter left I moved into first.”

Like Jared, Hannah was encouraged to run the event by her friend Sam.

“I wanted to get the medal today,” she said. “That and my mom said I had to do something this summer.”

Hannah’s friend Sam Reick had run the race a couple of years ago and medaled.

“I run cross country and I thought she’d like it,” she said.

Reick ran in the 5K race, so she had the chance to watch Knight.

“Running in this race made me want to move faster,” Knight said. “It made me want to finish before the others.”

Knight also said she knew she was the top female runner in the race near the final turn.

“Someone up there told me that I was the top female runner at that point,” she said. “That motivated me to want to run even faster.”

Approximately 250 people pre-registered for the 5K race this year according to race director Derek Radek. There were another 100 who signed up the day of the race.

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