4th annual Distance Night a success


Andrew Duran, Reporter

Distance Night in Palatine continued for its fourth year, drawing larger and louder crowds from across the nation. Meet officials estimate over 1200 spectators in the stands last Saturday evening.

“This meet keeps getting better. It’s probably the fastest meet in Illinois history,” Palatine senior Joseph Ahlgrim, a runner in the Men’s Elite 3200 Meter Run, said. “It’s just really cool to be a part of it.”

The third Saturday each April, Palatine hosts its annual track meet, exclusive to all events 800 meters or longer, and every year comes with faster athletes and faster times from across the nation. Notable athletes this year include Drew Bosley, a senior from Homestead, Wisconsin and Carter Cheeseman, a senior from Fort Worth, Texas, both of whom lead the Men’s Elite 1600 Meter Run, opening the first half in 2:03, pushing the race to record pace.

“Meeting new people here, just seeing all those great runners in America, and what this country has to offer, you know?” Palatine runner Richard Jacobo (‘20), competing in the Men’s Championship 3200, said. “A lot of great runners, a lot of new people to meet. It’s just so fun.”

The historically record-breaking meet continued in the Women’s Championship 3200. In a toe-to-toe finish, twelves runners ran faster than 11:00 for two miles, opening the first mile just over five minutes.

“It gives you something to strive for,” Christina Buckstaff, a current junior on Palatine’s Girls Track & Field team, said. “It’s hard to believe that there are people who are this good, and you see them and wish that you were that good, so it’s a bit of a motivator.”

The energy the competitors brought in quickly spread throughout the entire stadium, making Distance Night one of the loudest, anticipated track events in the Midwest. Each year, meet organizers include new races and opportunities for both runners and the community.

“I love the community races that we started last year,” Alex Soto, the head coach of Palatine’s long distance track team, noted. “We have junior high races, the youth 800, and the community race with coaches. This year we had about sixty junior high kids come run, so it’s cool to see some kids from schools around here and around the state.”

One of the most notable events hosted by Distance Night is the Special Olympics races held, especially the 800 Meter Run. Raising over $5,000 dollars for Special Olympics, Distance Night shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.

“It’s a good thing that we’re including [Special Olympics] and special needs students, it’s a really unique experience,” Palatine freshman Riley Beasley said. “Most meets out there don’t do that, and to be honest, that’s kind of sad. Because not only does it raise awareness, but it also shows that they can be really good athletes.”

Playing music for every race, this meet is known especially for its energy and liveliness, creating a specialized experience for everyone involved, ranging from the community mile to the Championship 1600 Run, finishing in 4:19.05.

“Every race is a race you can’t miss, you know,” Soto said. “In this meet, you [don’t want to] leave, you have to watch every race because every time something really cool could happen.”