On Monday the Peoria Chiefs along with the Illinois Valley Striders and the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the third annual Operation Santa Memorial Day 4 Mile Run/1 Mile Walk. The race, which began as a tradition on Memorial Day in 2008, had over 350 participants.
Jared Milam, a Pekin native and Cross Country star at Southern Illinois University took first place overall with a time of 21:09, two seconds off the winning time from last year's race. Jona McDermaid was the first female finisher at 27:29 The two first place finishers took home baseball bats signed by the 2010 Chiefs team.
Coming in second place overall was Josh Bannister at 22:13 while Saloman Gonzales was third at 23:07. On the female side Christine Johnson was second at 28:11 and Candee Krueger was third overall at 29:54. Bannister, Johnson and Krueger all won their age groups while Gonzales was second in the 35-39 age group behind Bannister.
Aside from the two overall winners of the race, the top three male and female winners for each age division all received unique race awards. The winner of each group got a Chiefs player autographed mini-bat while the second and third place finishers earned a Chiefs logo baseball. The race began on Adams St. just outside O'Brien Field and came back up Jefferson to go behind the stadium. On the third lap, runners ran down the ramp onto the warning track and concluded the four mile run near first base.
The funds raised through the race will benefit Operation Santa, a Peoria-based charity project. Operation Santa sent more than 35,000 stockings to deployed members of the service in the last holiday season, and aree over 100,000 stockings sent in total. More information on the race is available at www.peoriachiefs.com and www.operationsanta.info. Full race results will be posted later this week on the Illinois Valley Striders website.