Friday, March 20, 2015

Run with the Lions 5k - April 25th, 2015


On April 25th, 2015 the "Run with the Lions 5k" run/walk race will take place at Danada forest preserve in Wheaton IL. The race is a benefit for the PTA at Longwood Elementary school, in Naperville. The proceeds help the PTA put on programs for the kids that attend the school.

Sign up for the race is just $20 by April 1st (and still only $30 after). As well as helping a worthy cause you will receive a great tech T shirt, a scenic course, a finishers medal, great age group awards for the fast folks, and some good post race refreshments. The race also starts on the Danada horse training track which is famous for being the training ground of a former Kentucky Derby winner (link at end of post to a story about the horse written by a friend of mine, Heidi). And unlike downtown Chicago races parking is free. 

Last year, first year, the race was held at St James Farm FP. I ran the race and was very impressed with everything about the event.  Move to Danada is because of construction at St James Farm. I am sure it will be an awesome event like last year and I will be there.

Check out the race website which is full of race information and a link to sign up.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Punk the Monk 5k Trail Race


Another year of the Muddy Monk trail races has began, 7th of March with the Punk the Monk 5k trail race in Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda IL and I was there to volunteer.

Most years the Monk holds 12 trail races at various Chicagoland forest preserves on a variety of trails; limestone, grass, dirt, single track, snow. The races include some cool SWAG in the form of great T shirts, a finishers award (drink glass, maybe a medal for longer events), beer and hot dogs at the finish and those great running courses plus a great entry price. For 2015 Mr. and Mrs. Monk have scaled back to four races as Mrs. is expecting a little monk this year.

Arriving right at 8am for the 10am race start, the race staff had been busy getting things set up at race HQ, a picnic pavilion right next to a bat shelter  ( while RD Monk was out setting up the course. I was tasked with handing out T shirts along with Sarah who would be running the race. A well oiled crew had people looking up the runners bib number while the runner was signing the waiver. A call for the actual bib and shirt size was given so while Sarah and I got the right size shirt others pulled the bib. Runners grabbed some pins and headed back to their cars. Barely a line of people waiting.

Close to the start of the race another volunteer Mike and I was driven by BJ to the half way point along with Bob the photographer. We set up a small table, poured water and waited for the first runners. It would not be long until we saw them emerging from the forest into the trail the Monk had laid out around a big field. Due to the deeper snow it made for hard work for the lead guys who were also basically breaking trail. The later runners had a well trodden course in part. Despite the tough snow conditions all the runners passing through the aid station seemed to be smiling and happy to see us. Some stopped to take a break, others passed through with or without wanting water. After the last runner we packed up the aid station and waited for BJ to collect us. There was around 250 runners in this race and we only had to pick up 3 cups off the trail, the rest had been tossed into a big blue barrel we placed a little down the trail. Got to love trail runners.

Mike and I handing out water.

Back to the race HQ. Chubby Wieners were giving out hot dogs including a vegan variety. Pipeworks Brewery was serving their fine beer and there was a selection of granola bars, fruit snacks and twizzlers. And a crew from National University was doing free massages. You can tell The Monk is also an ultrarunner and trail runner. All that was missing was boiled potatoes.  The staff also had some cool Muddy Monk merchandise for sale, some from previous races and some logo hoodies.

So was The Monk Punked? Yeap but only just. The Monk, aka The RD aka Art finished 17th overall.

Unofficial results are here:

More race photos are on the Muddy Monk Facebook page. Most from the sort of half way aid station, some from the finish and race HQ.

So another Muddy Monk race is done and another season as begun. If you like old school style races with a modern feel yet laid back and with some fine SWAG check out the Muddy Monk races. I hope to be at the half marathon in August (limestone) and the Thriller race in October (dirt trails). One I will run, the other I will volunteer at.

Congrats to Art, Liz, their family, all the volunteers (yeah me), the sponsors, and the runners.

What a great winter day to run trails in Chicagoland.

All logos, photos and links copyrighted, patented, trademarked (if they are) owned by Muddy Monk and all their AKAs


Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 off to a slow start

My running year is off to a slow start.

Number of weeks ago I was diagnosed with pneumonia. No idea how I got it but likely a combination of allergy and asthma issues plus a cold. I’ve not to my knowledge had bronchitis or flu which can trigger the issue so it is sort of a mystery. But in my case I was lucky. My issue was just in the top part of the lung. The first doctor I saw never gave the diagnoses saying it was just asthma issues. When I didn’t get better and on the recommendation from the Target Clinic I saw another doctor and she sent me for a X-Ray which returned the pneumonia. A stronger longer round of meds seems to have cured me. Nothing out of the normal was detected on the follow up and was told I can return to running next week.   

For 2015 I have running plans and some races I want to do. Not having run much at all in 2014 and my last run being a loop at the Javelina 100 course back in November when crewing and pacing my friend Steve to another 100 mile finish I have to play catch up.

Below are some races that I’d like to do in 2015. Some will be done but others I am now listing incase others might interest. Of course I might be there. At the very end are some races I might be at to volunteer and work. Hey someone needs to set up the running courses!!

March 21st. Rock Cut, near Rockford will be the Tour de Trails 20k. I love running at Rock Cut but have only ran there during races. The Tour de Trails is a series of winter trail races starting in December with a 5k and adding a 5k each month to the grand final in March. It is the new revamped Survivor series I did in 2007. The good news is you can do the whole series (or could) or just some races. Originally the 20k was on my radar but now given the above might not make it so just supplying the info.   

End of April on the same weekend but in different states, Illinois and Wisconsin are two great races. On the 25th is Naperville’s Longwood Elementary “Run with the Lions” 5k. The proceeds benefit the school’s PTA.   This year the race will be at Danada forest preserve in Wheaton. I did the inaugural race last year when it was held at St James Farm FP. The move for 2015 is due to construction on the original course. 2014 was one of the best organized races I’ve been to and included a great T shirt, finishers medal (nice touch given the race had a lot of the school’s students running), great after race food and some good age group finishers awards And entry fee is cheap in advance.



The next day in Wisconsin on the Lapham Peak trails is the Bear Trak 20k. This race is a fund raiser for the Nancy Sellars foundation. Nancy was a Wisconsin ultra-runner and ultra cyclist who was sadly killed when out cycling not long after she and a team had completed the RAAM race across the USA. Nancy’s husband and her friends created the race to honor her in part. This race sells out. Includes a challenging 20k course (also a 4+ km race), and the T shirts from previous years have been very nice. Always wanted to do Bear Trax, maybe this year!


For Christmas Laura purchased a gift certificate to a race for me. That race is the Hot Hilly and Hairy 50k being put on by the Kenosha Running Company and will be held at UW-Parkside cross country course. This will be a challenge for me but something to shoot for. Ten 5k loops with a number of hills. My first ultra was a 3.1 mile loop. Seems boring to run multiple loops but was not in the end so hoping this will be the case for the Hot Hilly. The training begins for July 18th.


Same weekend as Hot Hilly 50k is Lisle’s Christmas in July 24 hour race with 6 and 12 hour options plus a 5k and 10k race. Two of the RDs also put on the awesome DPRT in October (see below) and the third runs the New Leaf Ultras. I’ll try and make a CiJ appearance at some point to volunteer as I did in 2014.

Buckle you get at CiJ if you run a 100 miles during the 24 hour.

Not sure what I’ll do after the HHH50k until October when I’ll be toeing the line at the Des Plaines River Trail races. (Maybe some shorter trail races).  2015 will be year 6 for DPRT. I’ve ran the race 4 times, first year the marathon then the half marathon. Sadly did not run in 2014 due to food poisoning two days before but I did volunteer. Currently I’d love to do the 50 mile, which would be my first but time will tell what I do.

Some other fine races that I hope to be at to volunteer and work

March 28th Paleozoic 50-Km and 25k

May 2nd Wisconsin Marathon and half

May 9th Ice Age Trail 50 mile and 50k

June 6th Kettle Moraine 100



Saturday, October 18, 2014

DPRT Year Five

Can't believe this was the 5th edition of the Des Plaines River Trail Races. This was my come back marathon in May of 2010. Four months later I did my comeback 50k race at Rock Cut. In the years that followed the race moved to October, grew in size so that remote parking was called for by the forest preserve this year for those running the half and full marathons. I had ran the half in the past three years but also volunteered each of those years at packet pick up before running. Handing out the time chips was very inspiring.

For 2014 I was signed up again for packet pick up and then running the half. Sadly running the half became a DNS as midweek I was hit with food poisoning. Although now recovered I decided to not run as for a 24 hour period I had had no food and slept for 20 hours. But nothing was going to stop me from being there to volunteer and help out the great race directors Ed and Terry. Like past years I handed out the timing chips from RunRace for the 50 milers. The half and full marathoners had bibs with the timing chip attached to the bib so we just had to check them in and hand over their goodie bags.

As you might recall from last year's blog report I really like the DPRT T shirts. Sure the design is the same but they add the current year and change the color. This year same logo design but a grey short sleeve A4 shirt plus the RDs added a bonus black DPRT cap. The 50 milers received a black race vest ideal for winter running when not that cold. Nice SWAG again.

After the half marathon took off (50mile at 7am, marathon at 8am, half at 9am) it was time to convert the packet pick up tent to a post race food tent. All runners received a food ticket so they could get a burger (including veggie version), chips, cookie and Gatorade served up by Ed's wife LuAnn and her team of volunteers. I then helped Terry move the start/finish arch from start to the finish, reset signing arrows to send runners into the finish, poured finish line water and recovery drink then finally the fun part of helping the RDs hand out finishers medals.

The race did have a few minor mishaps but both these are correctable for next year; both Ed and Terry were already working on the plan of ideas while handing out medals. Some runners missed the half marathon turnaround despite the signage. Some tweaking will easier fix that (extra volunteers, different bib colors for the half etc). Same with the first 50 mile turnaround which added a half mile each way (ultras are never exact anyway, Horton Miles they call them). Due to the rain during the week one section was water logged by the river through an underpass, perfect trail running!! And it rained for a few hours at the start of the race. Sadly not even Ed and Terry can do anything about the weather but it was probably close to perfect for running in the right gear. Turnarounds will be fixed; weather forecast probably not.

I hope to run again in 2015. Was sad to break my streak but with crewing and pacing at Javelina 100 in a few weeks for my buddy Steve Ochoa  I made the right decision. I am very inspired but all the runners, their supporters and crew, all the volunteers and the great race staff especially Ed and Terry, plus timers Michelle and Bill (



Monday, September 22, 2014

Muddy Monk Four Stars

The Chicago Flag is one on my favourites. Four red stars and two blue bands. The stars are for historic Chicago events or parts of the City history while the blue bands are branches of the Chicago River but you can read more here:

Muddy Monk is Chicago's favourite trail running series. The good Monk holds trail races of 5k to 50k on a variety of trail surfaces with as little paved as possible. They give out some nice SWAG, think T shirts, beer glasses, finishers medals at longer races, some good food after and a general old school with the modern touches races. That is my type of race.

This weekend found me running the Four Stars 4 mile race at the Old School Forest Preserve. The preserve is right next to the Des Plaines River Trail system so although the trail was new to me driving in I saw trails and trailheads familiar that I had ran before.

Head Monk, Art had set up an out and back course. In a road race I'd not like this but when you run trails they tend to look and feel different going the other direction so this was 2 miles out, turn around and head back. But Art and his devilish ways had a plan for this course.

I arrived early and got parked easily although even late comers would have no issue getting parked here due to the abundance of parking. Checked in at race HQ receiving a nice tech shirt and my number bib. Finishers award was a beer glass - mentioning that now as the shirt and glass are in this photo borrowed from Muddy Monk (not my race number).

Plenty of time to wait for the race start so I decided to check out the first half mile of the course which was a loop from the start along a grass meadow and up (this is the evil part) a sled hill, down the other side, back to the start before heading out onto the main trail system. Climbing to the top of the hill a number of people were out doing hill repeats and a group doing an outdoor boot/cross training session with some coaches. Climb done went back to start and chatted with RD Art and another runner discussing his new 50k (to be ran during his December race) then back to the car to listen to some Chicago music, "Smashing Pumpkins". While sat in my car saw a number of Bears, Blackhawk and Cubs shirts (one Sox) and at least five wearing Chicago Fire (MLS) jerseys including myself!! Others came in pizza, winter vortex (very clever), Book of Moron cast (think it started in Chicago).

Time to run

Start line was right by the HQ pavilion under Muddy Monk inflatable arch. Art said a few words and then fired the gun/horn/whistle/voice, don't recall the GO. Started nearer the back to let the fast kids get a clear start or not charge by me. Following the shrub line and red flags we headed toward the hill I had summited a little while ago. It was a good climb. Of course I knew we'd climb again at the end. Back along the other side of the meadow then out onto the limestone loop. Course was relatively flat, shaded in places thanks to the forest of trees. The markings consisted of blue signs with arrows and red flagging, very easy to follow. Being slow it was not long before the leader was spotted coming back to me and it was great to see a female out leading the race (she went onto be overall winner). The turn around by the preserve entrance was also the aid station with volunteers handing out water. I always carry a bottle of water whatever the distance or event so didn't need any. Then back to the start. Now I could see who was behind me and was surprised there was more than I thought there would be. Getting back to the race HQ the finishers were getting their post race beer, dogs, snacks, checking out Muddy Monk merchandise and generally chatting with each other or cheering in the slow runners like me. Of course we still had the meadow loop to do with the sled hill which seemed twice the size now. The climb up was also from the other direction (being out and back) and the climb was longer while the run down was more rutted. Got that down and headed for home. Felt good and run in with arms up. I had a goal given the lack of running this year and beat it by over five minutes. It was a soft goal but hey we all need one.

A volunteer handed me a finishers beer glass and I grabbed a can of Chicago Finch wheat ale. As I had to drive home and had errand that afternoon plus the CARA Ready to Run 20 miler to work at the next day saved the can for Sunday evening (the wait was good, nice beer). Found RD Art after the race, thanked him for Another great Muddy Monk and then had to leave for home. Art was running the CARA event Sunday then running the Four Stars after with a Muddy Monk season ticket holder who was out of town Saturday but wanted to do the race. Nice touch RD.

Four Stars was an enjoyable race and fun which is what it should be about. I'll post results link when Art posts them

Photos "borrowed" from Art and Muddy Monk who own the copyright if there is one

Race start from the sled hill, we climber this twice during the race. I had a climb before.

The finish

 Further races can be found at the website including the mentioned 50k which Art should have more details in the very near future including sign up. Given it is Cook County things take time for course approval and he wants to make sure it is done before going live.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Run With The Lions 5k at St James Farm

 On April 26th a school close to home is holding a 5k trail race at Warrenville's St James Farm


I've never ran at St James Farm but always wanted to. It is one of the many nearby DuPage Forest Preserve right near Herrick and Blackwell. The Illinois Prairie Path runs along side part of St James. Originally this was a privately owned farm but upon the passing of the owner it was presented to DuPage to be preserved. The DPFP have done some work to make it accessible for visitors including adding new parking and an additional entrance. In recent years it has been home to high school cross country meets and a few other 5k races.

Now Longwood Elementary school are using it for their inaugural event to raise funds for the PTA.

Entry fee is just $20 before March 31st and there are certain discounts for signing up with family members. After pre registration the fee will be $30. That is still a great price for a 5k that comes with a tech shirt, a finishers medal, a goodie bag (plus plenty of parking!!) and benefits a school that will make great use of the proceeds. For  kids grade 5 and under there is a free 100 yard dash. Those are always fun to watch.     

                       I will be running the 5k. Sign up yourself and meet me there.


Monday, October 21, 2013

DPRT T shirts, oh and I ran a race

Year four for the Des Plaines River Trail races and I was back again for my fourth.

Year one I ran the marathon and the T shirts were white
Year two I ran the half marathon and the T shirts were a silver gray
Year three I ran the half marathon and the T shirts were black
Year four I ran the half marathon and the T shirts were purple

All four years the shirts were the same with the AWESOME logo posted above but with a different colour and the years date right below. Why change a perfectly good T shirt design

(Someone needs to tell the Chicago Marathon - this year's shirt likely sent people to the merchandise booth, oh I get it!!) 

Like years two and three I again volunteered at packet pick up helping timing company (the great headed by Bill Thom and his wife Michelle) handing out the timing chips then ran the half marathon. Unlike those previous years this time I worked until 11.40pm, got home at midnight, slept 3 hours then got up to get ready to drive north. I am also in the middle of a 15 day stint with no days off between full time job, races and event work. Guess I knew how my race would be.

Helping in the morning is inspiring. Handing out the chips first to the 50 milers (7am start), then the marathon runner (8am start), then my fellow half runners (9am start) was like a big reunion when I knew so many of them.   

Not going to say too much about my race but it was not that great. My last training run had been 10 days before, a good 20 miler then all that work set in and being on my feet the day/night before meant legs that didn't really want to move. DPRT starts with a 1.3 mile head south then head back passing the start/finish. I seriously thought about stopping after 2.6 miles but I didn't and start to move along some what OK even if I was slow. Maybe it was seeing some other runners out there or the scenic course (crushed limestone trail through forest, meadows and along the river) that helped but I was now determined to see my friends from New Leaf Ultra Runs "running" the aid station near the half marathon turn. They are inspiring themselves, so many ultra stories in that group. I made the turn and headed for home. Sadly a mile later my calf muscle started to tighten up. I figure it was from being on a hard floor at work night before. I tried to run but changed to walking with some running sections. I was on course for my goal up to that point then changed that goal to just finishing to claim my fourth DPRT finishers medal. It was a joy to make that final turn and pass under the finish banner. I actually did run most of the last half mile. RD Terry was there to greet me.

Race Directors Ed and Terry are awesome. They had dreamed up this race on their home training trail and pulled it together. Over the years the race, no the event, has got better and better. There have been some minor changes but only to improve it.

Of course the T shirt design has remained the same, except the colour.  And I like that.