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'Bear-crawling' Duo Finish Chicago Polar Dash 5K In More Than 4 Hours

By Justin Breen | January 12, 2013 4:50pm | Updated on January 13, 2013 8:31pm

SOUTH LOOP — Rodrigo Velarde won't be doing that again.

"That" is the five-kilometer Chicago Polar Dash race he "bear-crawled" on Saturday.

Although official times weren't kept for the 5K portion of the race, which also had a half-marathon and 10K distances, Velarde said he and accomplice Dennis Pilson finished in four hours, 11 minutes and 47 seconds.

"A lot harder than I thought it was going to be," said Velarde, 24, who was raising money for the Silent Warrior Scholarship Fund. "Not going to be 'bear-crawling' a race that like again."

Zach Edmonson, the Team Ortho Foundation director of operations for Chicago, was at the finish line to meet Velarde and Pilson and confirmed the duo finished.

Velarde said a few participants stopped during their races to ask what he was doing. Others heard of the cause for which he was competing and donated a few dollars, Velarde said.

"The best part was the reactions we got from other runners and other people walking around," Pilson said. "Some runners even decided to bear crawl a short distance with us in the beginning."

Velarde, a former Albany Park resident who graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the first of the 3.1 miles was the easiest. By the third mile, Velarde said he and Pilson, of Lincoln Park, had to stop every 20-25 yards.

"My wrists and hands took a huge beating," Velarde said.