October 03, 2012 - Having a number of pleasant parks, sidewalks along major roads and home to the state high school 2012 track and field champions - Lake Orion is a runner's town.
Veronika Maltsev kneels during a cross country run at Hope Pass in Leadville Colo. Photo submitted (click for larger version)
And one lucky resident has secured a place in the prestigious Chicago Marathon to be run on October 7.
Veronika Maltsev ran in a contest sponsored by Affresh Cleaner, which used a device called a Nike Fuel Band to track contestants' progress.
The 50 contestants that were chosen received a band to wear and track their weekly mileage which was then posted to Facebook. The top three with the highest mileage got free entrance to the marathon.
Maltsev, who finished fourth out of the 50, got in as part of a random draw that saw 15 more contestants admitted.
"Chicago is one of the supreme races," said Maltsev. "It's very well organized and very fast and flat. It has its own challenges and most of the time the weather is completely unpredictable. I ran in 32 degrees to 85 degrees in the afternoon with people falling from heat exhaustion.
"As far as the race goes, it's number one in the Midwest and the name of it is a well earned one."
For Maltsev, the contest to gain entry was nothing too special because her training was already underway when she discovered the challenge.
When she saw the opportunity to win the entrance to the marathon, she continued her regular regimen.
Originally from Russia, Maltsev moved to the Lake Orion in 1997 from Rochester Hills. She ran track in field in high school and university, but said she became sedentary in her adult life. Four years ago she picked up running again when she realized she wanted to stay healthy.
Since then she's run the Chicago Marathon twice, two Boston Marathons and too many half marathons to count. Her first 50 mile marathon was in Indiana and she soon transitioned into "Ultra Marathons" which encompass runs above 26.2 miles.
Yet in the end, she simply loves running.
"It's probably the feeling of freedom you get when you run," she said. "It's very similar to flying for me. You hear stories about runners who get a high but it's sometimes also something we have to prove to ourselves. Whether it's getting faster or getting into races you have to qualify for - it's a competitive thing as well."
Maltsev said running also acts as a stress reliever for her, laughing as she called it her "happy place."
The Chicago Marathon has 45,000 entries. For more information on the Chicago Marathon visit chicagomarathon.com. For more information on the Affresh "Who Do you leave in your Dust" challenge, visit affresh.com