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Geneva track program to pull all-nighter

Running two miles in one workout – let alone one 24-hour period – qualifies as a breeze for most Geneva track and field athletes.

To that end, the Vikings’ upcoming 24-hour relay is indeed a fun run, designed as an active fundraiser for the approaching season.

The event begins at 3:30 p.m. Friday and concludes at the same time Saturday, with boys and girls athletes keeping separate batons moving as they traverse the indoor track, mile by mile, in between.

“That’s a lot of miles to get to go in 24 hours,” Vikings girls coach Peter Raak said. “It’s a pretty cool event the kids have.”

Raak and boys coach Gale Gross presided over the first relay in 2010, when the boys and girls jointly raised about $11,000 for the program. When they weren’t attending classes or training, the Vikings were commissioned to get mileage donations from friends, family and community members.

As athletes strayed from the task of involving the community the following spring, Gross and Raak decided to skip the relay for 2012. They’re hoping a rejuvenated effort will spark increased camaraderie among their ranks.

Boys and girls will be divided into three groups apiece, with each group signing up for a pair of four-hour shifts. The group that runs from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. takes the same hours in the early morning. Shifts from 7:30 to 11:30 and 11:30 to 3:30 also correspond.

Given the team’s size – about 100 boys and 70 girls – athletes figure to run about one mile a shift, or eight times around the indoor track.

One boy and one girl each will run at a time. The boys’ goal of 200 miles figures to about a 7-minute mile average. The girls’ goal of 180 miles would be about an 8-minute mile average.

Movies, video games and Geneva’s contest gym and weight room will be available to athletes when they’re not running.

“Going from past relays, the kids think it’s cool to be at the school that late,” Raak said. “It’s a fun aspect to think they’re the only ones there along with the coaches and some parents who chaperone. Obviously we don’t let them run around the entire school, but I think they find it’s a neat thing they’re there that late by themselves.”

Raak said he and Gross are exploring possible charity donations from the fundraiser, but nothing has been finalized.

It’s not as if they’ll be at a loss for time to think or socialize during the relay.

“Definitely people – whether they’re a sprinter, distance runner, thrower, vaulter, jumper or whatnot – we all kind of get it. We all can appreciate what each other does,” Raak said. “You’re in there day in, day out, and even though we all break down in different events, we all warm up together and have that mutual respect for one another.”

If you’re interested

For more information or to contribute to the Geneva track and field team’s 24-hour relay, contact Peter Raak at 630-463-3922 or email

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