BIG SHOULDERS 2003
5K Longcourse Results
2.5K Shortcourse Results
Big Shoulders 2003: Race of Mystery!
Sometimes in life a large and dynamic phenomenon can present more questions than answers, leaving its participants perhaps puzzled but pleasantly perplexed. Big Shoulders 2003 was just such an event, a race shrouded in the mystery of its own success. Let’s explore some of the mysteries of this Lucky #13 Annual Swim:
The Big Mystery:
Where’d they all come from? Almost 400 people swam Big Shoulders this year! Official count was 237 for the 5K and 152 for the 2.5K, making 389 overall. Yet, Big Shoulders still felt as friendly and collegial as ever, proof of our Midwest hospitality and good nature.
Even with the help of high technology, namely the GPS, plus our cumulative experience, many hypothesized that the course was slightly short of an exact 5K. As Race Director Chris Sheean so aptly put it in his quote of the day, “Hey, it’s a volunteer race and the Lake is free. If any of you feel cheated out of some swimming, by all means please jump back in for a few extra strokes!” We all found this amusing, though Chris was actually the only one to take himself up on his own advice.
Just how did we luck out this year, when a few days previous the water was chilly, the winds gusting and the waves surging? Today’s race was temperate and relatively calm, even though there were many shivers and chattering teeth heard at the start line.
Mystery of the Day:
“Big Shoulders is always the first Sun…er, Saturday after Labor Day each year.” Now that Big Shoulders has successfully made the transition to Saturday from Sunday, what will we do with all that extra weekend time post-race?
Dr. Dennis Miller was awarded the Iron Shoulders designation for having swum in every Big Shoulders race since its inception, joining the other Iron Shoulders Award winners honored last year. What keeps him going? Today was Dennis’ 13th Big Shoulders, prompting him to quip, ”Hey, I spend all day fixing teeth and inflicting pain. Why shouldn’t I suffer a little once a year myself?” (We are just kidding; Dr. Miller is a fine and trusted practitioner of the science and art of dental treatment, and we heartily endorse his craft. Stop in and see him right down the street from the very same beach where Big Shoulders launches. He never said t
The All-Butterfly Mystery:
Tom Boettcher returned to once again swim Big Shoulders 5K all butterfly. This is the fifth time in a row he has done Big Shoulders all fly, begging the question – What on earth possesses a man to swim 3.1 miles of butterfly? 5 times? One wonders: What is on his mind with every butterfly stroke? And how many strokes of fly fit into a 5 K anyway? Perhaps, in the answers to these mysteries, there is some window to the soul of all Big Shoulders swimmers…
Sweet Mystery of Love:
In the never-ending circle of life and love, Chicago Police Officer and Chicago Masters Swimmer Nial Funchion won special recognition for his 26 mile Lake Michigan swim along the coast of Chicago from Evanston due south. Upon completion of this swim, Nial presented his girlfriend, Big Shoulders 2.5k swim champ Peggy Dempsey, with an engagement ring hidden in his wetsuit. It is hypothesized that Nial added at least 5 minutes to his swimming time over 26 miles by carting along that large rock for the entire distance! Big Shoulders was proud to have this Aquatic Romantic as part of our crowd this year.
Back with a renewed zeal for racing, Richard Kramer won the Overall 5 K race with a blistering time, reminding us of his many previous Big Shoulders victories. Likewise, his female counterpart Nadine Day set a breakneck pace just 5 minutes behind in winning the women’s division. In the 2.5 K race, the spread was 3 minutes between male winner David Wickstgrom and female champ Peggy Dempsey. All swimmers encounter some racing mysteries as we cycle through phases of burn out and enthusiasm for training and competition. We all learn ways to pay attention to the flow of our minds and bodies.
The Mystery of the Cookie:
Everyone wants to know: What is in those delicious Potassium Cookies courtesy Race Founder and Olympic Gold Medalist Bill Mulliken? Its always good to see Bill’s smiling face on race morning.
The Mystery of the Unknown Swimmer:
New names and faces come from all over the country to join us at Big Shoulders each year, though it is a mystery to us how so many have heard of this Architecturally Significant Classic. Return to your faraway lands and spread the word -- swimmers of all abilities will always be welcome. We are proud of every swimmer at Big Shoulders, from the first to the last. Thank you to everyone for cheering right until the end, while enjoying a brunch of scrumptious neon green Gatorade and Gold Balance Bars, the gold standard in the world of mobile nutrition.
The Antithesis of the Unknown -- Our Regulars return to Dispel Mystery:
We saw Cathy Gray, Famous Amos, Daddy John Martin, Laurie Tanimura, Amy Statton, pastry wizard and multi-talented Russ Hafner, Coach Tim and his masters group, and there are so many more beyond this short list. There is no mystery to why swimmers such as these return every year – we find camaraderie and challenge in the waves below Big John Hancock Tower.
No Mystery -- The Quality of The Race:
It is no mystery to the regulars of Big Shoulders that every event is smooth, professional and fun thanks to all the volunteers that make it happen. Race Director Chris Sheean has infused Big Shoulders with his gracious and admirable personal characteristics, providing a long-term guiding force in the personality and professionalism of the race. Pam Smith has provided steady and surgically precise coordination and support. Almost-a-Dr. and U. of Chicago cancer researcher and volunteer Candace Cham brings us all a smiling face as we overcome pre-race grogginess to register. We thank all the volunteers, including the UIC Men’s and Women’s Swimming Team and head coach Paul Moniak, the Chicago Park District lifeguards, and all those who helped with provisions like cookies, Gatorade, etc. It would be exciting for Big Shoulders swimmers to stop by a Flames home meet some time and cheer on these great athletes. Let’s not forget sponsors such as Balance Bar, ADROC Productions, Hostel International, Ultra Swim, Adolf Kiefer, Gatorade, Infolocus, Sheean Design, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Amateur Athlete as well as the companies who understand when we allocate some personal time and effort to making this race great.
Mystery of our Bodies:
Many voiced the sentiment that they were proud, grateful and relieved just to have finished the race once again. For all that we know of our world, there is still too much mystery within our own bodies. All of us are forced to confront the mystery of our own bodies; will we make it down that long, deep backstretch twice while the current picks up and our tendons tighten up?
One of Big Shoulder’s best-trained and most courageous swimmers, George Wendt, described how he found his calf and foot cramped in the middle of the race to the extent that he had to break stroke and stop to work it out. Much to the chagrin of this marauder of the water, he fell off the lead pack but still finished in the Top Ten. George’s incident is a good lesson for all in how to keep our calm in the face of adversity. Big Shoulders does not reward panic; cooler heads prevail in the midst of extreme physical challenge, even if it means making a sensible decision to break or stop. The boats are there to help, and there is no shame for ours is a race where every participant is a champ even if your body throws you some unexpected responses.
The Great Mystery of Self:
Perhaps our greatest mystery, played both in and out of the water, is of the simultaneous frailty and robust nature of life itself. How many of us have faced tragedy over the past year due to illness and accident? How many stories did we share of brave displays in the face of cancers and similar health threats? Perhaps we find some meaning or expression of our own will to persist in our yearly Big Shoulders endeavor. That Lake Michigan triangle structure, marked by three ominous orange course buoys, serves as a mental architecture for us – it provides consistency and challenge by which we can meter our year and calibrate our own state of health.
As we reflect upon the mysteries of Big Shoulders 2003, let us be thankful we could all come together in health, vigor and friendly competition to celebrate the joys of extreme outdoor swimming. It was a privilege to gather, and a joy to swim! See you next year.
Thanks again for your continued support of Big Shoulders
The Chicago Masters' Big Shoulders Swim