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Posted: July 16, 2017:  

Athletics: Neely Spence Gracey Repeats Win at Humana Rock Ďní Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Tyler Pence takes menís title; Daniel Dolney & Michelle Kim win 10K races

Comedian Danny Pudi takes part in race; Greg Heilers finishes 100th Rock Ďní Roll event

Dirty Dozen Brass Band rocked the finish line festival for runners and spectators

CHICAGO, IL: July 16, 2017 - Defending champion Neely Spence Gracey returned to the Humana Rock Ďní Roll Chicago Half Marathon reclaiming her title in 1:13:13 and finishing in 6th place overall. She finished more than four minutes ahead of the next woman Julia Kohnen who crossed in 1:17:37. Jamie Vest took third in 1:17 37.

Neely Spence Gracey Crossing Finish Line (credit Kevin Morris/PhotoRun)

"Itís always exciting to get the win," said Spence Gracey, who finished in the top 10 at both the Boston and New York City Marathon last year. "I love this race and it didnít disappoint this year. Iím really happy it was a good start to my fall season. I love the energy here. Itís a great course. I like coming to Chicago and running along the water, finishing at the fountain. Itís just really iconic. Rock Ďní Roll does it right. Itís a big party!"

The menís race was much closer with Tyler Pence of Springfield, Illi. passing up Scott Dahlburg with about four miles to go to take the lead and eventually the win. Pence finished first in 1:09:06 but Dahlburg was not far behind taking second place in 1:10:21. Finishing off the podium was Gedion Yetrif in 1:12:25.

"It was my 4th time doing this race and itís a great crowd every time," said Pence. "The first five miles were my favorite. Theyíre in the city and it was easy to relax in the beginning. This was my 6th half and every single one Iíve gone from the gun and that just hurts. This time I wanted to start calmer."

Womenís running pioneer, Kathrine Switzer, was on hand to cheer on runners as they finished after finishing the 5K on Saturday. Switzer became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon starting the fight to overcome gender stereotypes. Her foundation, 261 Fearless Ė named after the original bib number she ran with ó supports women in the sport of running and is one of the featured charities of the weekend. Through her partnership with Humana, the 70-year-old is now focused on inspiring seniors to achieve their best health and experience all life has to offer.

"One of the reasons Iím involved with Humana and Rock Ďní Roll [Marathon Series] is that if we can show older runners that our sport can be engaging, social, and fun, we can keep them at it," Switzer said. "Iím trying to be a good example."

Switzer met Spence Gracey at the finish line to congratulate the champion:

"When [Kathrine] comes up and she says, ĎYour storyís so amazing, Iím inspired by you,í I started to tear up," said Spence Gracey. "Sheís so iconic in the sport, and itís so impressive that she even knows who I am. I actually got her autograph, Iím such a little fan girl."

More than 18,000 runners took the streets of the Windy City for the half marathon and 10K which started in Grant Park. Among them was actor and comedian Danny Pudi, who finished the half-marathon in 1:36:17. Kansas City, Mo., resident Greg Heilers became the latest member of the Rock Ďní Roll Marathon Seriesí century club, running his 100th Rock Ďní Roll Marathon Series event in Chicago.

The fast and scenic course gave runners a first-class tour of downtown with epic views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, Chicago River and more. In true Rock Ďní Roll fashion, live, local bands lined the course to keep them moving. Once crossing the finish line, runners and spectators celebrated at the Toyota Rock Ďní Roll Concert Series featuring the New Orleans jazz group, Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Next summerís Humana Rock Ďní Roll Chicago Half Marathon weekend is scheduled for July 21-22, 2018. For race results, photos and special 2018 presale registration, visit .RunRocknRoll.com.

Start Line Photo (credit Bruce Buckley)


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