Al’s Run titles are won by former Minnesota alumni
Racing for Arrowhead’s state high school championship team back in 2009 and then winning a Big Ten title in the mile as a Minnesota Gopher in 2014, John Simons always had one other race on his bucket list. It just never worked out with his schedule.
This year, Simons was finally able to make the Briggs & Al’s Run for Children’s Hospital. And in fact, the 26-year-old won the 5-mile race in 25 minutes, 7 seconds.
“I just wanted to come out here and compete,” Simons said. “It’s a little out of my wheelhouse. But just being out there, running mostly solo, you’re never really out there alone because of the crowds. That really helped lift me and keep me going.”
Another Minnesota alum took the women’s title. Madison-area native Megan Herrick crossing the finish line in 31:16.
“It was a pretty smooth course, I liked that there weren’t too many turns,” Herrick said. “There were some hills to keep it interesting.”
The 40th anniversary of the run/walk was hot by most runner’s preferences, especially inland at the starting line on Marquette's campus, but it was otherwise an idyllic day for the participants, volunteers and spectators. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the hospital, initiated four decades ago by former Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire and is one of the best community events in the state.
Simons of Shorewood is an assistant coach for the UW-Milwaukee men’s cross country and track distance athletes, and he seemed just as excited to run in front of a home crowd as he put on his first-place medal.
“I’ve been racing a long time and I’ve always wanted to run this event. It’s for such a great cause and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it,” Simons said. “It was fun to do this in front of a lot of people I know. It’s good to run local and feel the energy of the hometown crowd. It’s a really well-run event. It’s really exciting.”
In the last 39 years, the participants and sponsors of the event have raised more than $19 million for Children’s Hospital, with 100% of the money raised going directly to the hospital.
Herrick, 31, ran competitively at Minnesota in the 5K and 10K distances from 2005-‘10. Then she was part of the Olympic training team in Flagstaff, Ariz. She was pushing for the marathon distance before numerous injuries finally halted her long distance running.
Now a project manager at CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, Herrick runs for her health and enjoyment. She is however training for the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December, so the 5mile distances was relatively easy for her.
She was surprised by her twin sister cheering for her at the finish line with her nephew.
“She gave me that last boost,” said Herrick.
John Simons of Shorewood won the 40th Al's Run Saturday.
Megan Herrick won Al's Run Saturday in Milwaukee.