Al’s Run ti­tles are won by for­mer Min­nesota alumni

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - SPORTS - LORI NICKEL

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.

LORI NICKEL / MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

John Si­mons of Shore­wood won the 40th Al's Run Saturday.

LORI NICKEL

Me­gan Her­rick won Al's Run Saturday in Mil­wau­kee.

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