Issue Date: November/ December 2011 Winter Sports Issue, Posted On: 10/13/2011
Amber Druien & Drew Smith
Nov/Dec 2011 AOTM
Amber Druien — Sterling, Ill.
Amber Druien began her running career on the track in middle school, where she specialized in fast sprints. She tried her hand at cross country in high school, but originally hated it.
"It was horrible," says Druien. "I couldn't even run the whole 2.5-mile race at first. I kept it up though and got better and better." Better is an understatement. In college, Druien was a 10-time All American (two time National Champion in the 800 and 1500).
As a post-collegiate athlete, Druien hasn't been a slouch. Recently, she took home top honors at the Lakefront Marathon, 4th place at the Northshore Half marathon and broke a course record at the Quarryman Challenge.
"I enjoy running for the stress relief it brings, and because it's one of the few things where hard work truly does pay off," says Druien. "You can see success directly correlate to the effort that you put into it."
Drew Smith — Huntley, Ill.
Drew Smith has been a runner as long as he can remember. During his college cross country and track career, Smith started to feel burnt-out logging miles on his feet, so he took up triathlon.
"Triathlon offered me the chance to compete but have variety in my training," says Smith. "After my first race 4 years ago I was hooked and have been competing in triathlons ever since."
2011 has been a fantastic year for Smith. After buying a new bike, he has set personal records in virtually every race he's participated in this year. Additionally, Smith logged a top five age group finish at the Muncie Half Ironman and a first place age group placement at this year's Chicago Triathlon.
"I like triathlon because I like a challenge, there is no better feeling than racing as hard as you can and throwing down a PR," says Smith. "Tri is more than just a road race, the three disciplines and transitions add a strategy and planning aspect that you don't find in other races."