Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tour de Trails 20k

Preview number one

Over next few weeks I hope to write up a preview of the races I listed in my Super Duper Race list. These are all races that I hope to do in 2016 but have also had some involvement in before generally due to running or volunteer at them. As with any race please verify all details for yourself and every race is subject to changes right up to the moment it starts.

Today I am going to look at Rockford's Tour de Trails 12 mile, March 19th in Rock Cut State Park.

This race is part of a winter series put on by the Rockford Road Runners on various trail systems around the Rockford area. They hold a 3 mile (December), 6 mile (January), 9 mile (February), 12 mile (March). There was an option to do the whole series if you signed up for the series before the first race or you can do individual race such as the 12 mile in March.

In 2007 I completed this series. It was under a different RD and all races where held at Rock Cut. If you completed the series you earned the coveted orange survivor long sleeve shirt.

The new RD has kept the same general ideas but made some nice changes. Kept is the low entry fee, challenging courses, bring a dish to share, low key race but added a small SWAG item for each race: December was a Christmas tree ornament, March will be a long sleeve cotton T shirt (see race web for full details including limits on sign up deadlines for SWAG etc), holds each race at a different trail system in the Rockford area although March will be at Rock Cut, gives a hoodie for those completing the series.

My previous races at Rock Cut have included the 2007 series, the 12mile (well 20k) series race in 2012, and in September I've done the club's HOBO races including 25k twice and 50k once. Rock Cut is a great trail system including wide cross country trails, horse trails and single track trails. Some is flat, some hilly and there could be a creek or swallow river crossing depending on the trails used. And being the tail end of winter it could be dry, wet, snowy, icy. I've ran in all conditions at Rock Cut.

My reviews:

March 2012 20k

Rock Cut HOBO 50k


Friday, January 1, 2016

Here's some super duper races for 2016

Happy New Year my friends.

2015 wasn't a good one for me. Well some parts where but running was not. A few medical issues (pneumonia, allergies, bronchitis) basically prevented any running. I did a few races but they didn't go as planned but I made them fun and finished. Hoping for a better 2016. At least work and school went well but it was a busy time.

My plan for 2016 is to get back to running, do some races, volunteer at some races all while working hard and learning well. Not sure what races I'll be shooting for in 2016 but some ideas are listed and I intend to do profiles on those listed and even others. Maybe you'll be at some of these

March 19 Tour de Trails at Rock Cut SP in Rockford. 12 miles of trails 

April 26 Run with the Lions 5k St James Farm, Warrenville IL. 

May and June will likely find me volunteering at the Ice Age 50 and the Kettle Moraine 10044

July 4 Pokanoka's 8 mile trail race, Shabbona Lake, IL.

July 15-16 Christmas in July, Lisle IL. This event includes a 5k, 10k, 6 hour, 12 hour and 24 hour.

July 30 Hot, Hilly Hairy 50k Kenosha WI. Held on the famous UW- Parkside cross country course.

August 28 Muddy Monk's Nearly Sane half

October 15 Des Plaines River Trail, 50 mile, marathon, half marathon.

In the weeks ahead I plan to do a profile of each race detailing event details taken from their website, Facebook pages and my own experiences. I may add some other races and if any RDs want me to add their events please email me and I'll consider them ( Some of the above races are put on by RDs or organizations that do other events during the year or a series of races during the mentioned events so those will get some words during the profile postings. Good example is the Hot Hilly Hairy 50k put on my Kenosha Running Company who do a number of trail races during the year plus the HHH50k is one of a number of races held on the same day. Same with DPRT which if you have read my blogging you know what that event means to me.



Saturday, July 4, 2015

Pokanoka's 8 mile trail race

The third annual Pokanoka's 8 mile trail race was held today July the 4th in Shabbona Lake State Park to benefit the Safe Passage group.

I signed up for the race a few weeks ago before the deadline for T shirts although I knew this would be a slow run and hike around the lake. After signing up my friend Carina told me she did it in 2014 and would be there this year. She also mentioned her husband Joe had craved a totem pole in 1997 and it was placed right outside the sponsoring Pokanoka's Café. Over the years she had also camped there

Joe's Totem Pole. Photo from race website

Race day dawned and I got up early and headed west to the park being one of the first to arrive, something I prefer to do. Headed to packet pickup. Got my bib, number 199, goody bag and then the T shirt. Sadly although the shirt is a nice design it is the one color I hate, pink, so it'll not get worn by me. (Got home and gave it to Laura to use as PJs or something). Wished it had been white. Still we was there to trail run around a lake and benefit a good cause not a T shirt so no biggie

Carina and our ultra running friend Mike arrived got their packets and it was time to line up for the start. The race announcer went through last years winners to see if they were there this year and mentioned the new age group set up; no award for last place just the fast folks. There was also a show of hands for first timers at the race,  I was.

Race start and how we would continue (photo by Carina)

The race started almost cross country style with a white line sprayed on the grass and the 100 lined up behind so not many deep. We started need the back and once the gun was fired followed everyone out onto the trail system.

The course was primarily all grass on trails around 8 feet wide. There was a few sections of dirt and a little mud plus a number of hills and rollers. The course was around 1/3 woods with pine and other trees, 1/3 prairie and 1/3 lake or water views including a long dam crossing at one end of the lake. It was a scenic run. Parts reminded me of the Nordic blue trail at Kettle Moraine but with less steep climbs, except one big hill. Other parts reminded me of Rock Cut in Rockford area due to the lake views.  If I lived closer I would run at Shabbona Lake  

Carina, Mike and I took our time on this course. We chatted and laughed a lot. We run some, walked more, power hiked even more. We stopped so Carina could take photos and ask other trail users to take photos of our little group. Around mile 4.5 Mike was told to go run so he could finish faster then run back to meet up with us. He ended up with 10+ miles. Our time was slow but due to making it fun the slow race time went by really fast. The hard part besides the hills was being able to see the finish line across the lake but as we ducked in and out of lake views it was great to realize we was getting closer and closer with every step. Finally we hit a really long earthen dam that holds back the lake water at the south end. After that crossing with stops for photos a small trail loop took us into the finish. Carina wanted to be the last finisher but someone was behind us.

The Dam crossing (photo by a fisherman with Carina phone)

The race was really low key, around 100+ but I think it could grow. The course as mentioned was to my liking. The race benefits a good cause. They also have a 1.8 mile trail walk.

Next year I'll be back but maybe I should train. 2015 has been rough due to pneumonia at start of year, working full time and also putting on running events on some weekends, plus being back in school half time makes for one very busy me but as I love running especially on trails let's "just do it"  (Nike TM) 

Course map (road crossing blue T, water station green numbers)
And for my ultra runners. As mentioned the trails reminded me of Nordic at KM and Rock Cut. Trails were all grass with a little dirt and mud but included hills. If you live close or want a change from training at KM, RC or Palos check out Shabbona in DeKalb County. Given the loop we used (8 miles) Mike and I thought this would make a good place to hold a 50k trail race - 4 loops for just over 50k and maybe a 1 and 2 loop races for those to experience the trail system. Easy access to set up an aid station at mid point  and plenty of parking plus a café nearby.
My next race was supposed to be the Hot Hilly 50k (20k30k) race in Kenosha in 2 weeks. Sadly so undertrained in distance and pace, as mentioned above I doubt it will happen. As I still want to be there thinking of volunteering then going to Lisle later in the day and volunteering at the Christmas in July 24 hour ultra. Although I finished today it was slow and maybe ugly. It felt good to finish but know I am not ready to even go 20k let alone 50k in two weeks.
Are we done yet? Mike and I just before the dam crossing
All photos belong to the race or Carina. Consider it free PR.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chicago Full Moon 5k Norwood Park

Last year I did a fun evening race in Chicago at Norwood Park.

The Chicago Full Moon 5k and 1 mile race will be held again on Wed July 29th at 7.30pm. Put on by my friends Bill and Michelle Donato Thom of RunRace in basically their back yard. Consists of 2 loops around a neighborhood and park.

Sunset is around 8pm so will you or the sun finish first.

$20 to enter by Wed July 15 midnight, $25 after and $30 race day (see web for full details).

Great time last year and what else do you have to do on a Wednesday night.

[Logo: Chicago Full Moon Run]
Race review and photos from 2014
[map: CFM 5-Km Featured Event]
Photos and map copyright of and The Thom's

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rain (Run) With The Lions 5k

A chilly, rain and wind could not keep well over 300 runners from attending the 2015 edition of Longwood PTA's Run with the Lions 5k at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton, IL

Last year's race was held at St James Farm in Warrenville, another DuPage Forest Preserve but due to extensive construction there Longwood PTA moved the race to nearby Danada. St James was primarily a grass trail system while Danada utilizes limestone trails besides the start/finish line area.

The race had a great entry fee for those that signed up early. What race promises a nice tech event shirt, a scenic course, a cool finishers medal and some great post race food by their great sponsors? Run with the Lions 5k of course. Last year was a great blue shirt, this year was a red one with a new logo on the front. The same new logo appeared on the finishers medal.

Packet pickup was really smooth at two different locations on two different days. The goody bag included a bunch of flyers some from local restaurants with offers that I'll be using.

Race day I was up bright and early. It was raining as it had been when I went to sleep a number of hours before. Although it was not as bad as before it was still coming down and the temperature had dropped to an unseasonable level. Looking at the radar on the internet didn't and wouldn't change the story so pulling out the running jacket I got ready. Despite the rain it had to be a shorts day but to go with those was a long sleeve DPRT shirt, the jacket and a running cap. Sadly I left the gloves at home and a thin pair might have been a good idea. Danada has two parking areas, one close to the race HQ and the other next to the equestrian center a short walk via a trail tunnel to the race site. Naturally I choose the longer walk via the tunnel. A number of people parked there and a hardy volunteer was directing people to the race. I run at Danada and the contecting Herrick a lot so knew the way but appreciate the volunteer for being out there in the rain. Ran into a number friends (Bob and Diane, Julie and her daughter, neighbor Kathy, a few members of the Midwest Vikings) before the race started and again after.

The race started on the Danada horse training track where a former Kentucky Derby had done some  training. In fact the preserve still has a set of horse starting gates on display. With the rain still coming down race director "Drew and his Crew" said some words and started the runners. 400 meters of grass running then a left turn onto the limestone trail that would carry us to a turnaround just inside Herrick. For the most this section is flat with meadows on one side and trees on the other. As the course was out and back the scenery changed sides on the return. Each mile was clearly marked and every so often their was a volunteer holding an inspiring sign created by one of the students at Longwood school.  Not far from the turnaround was a well maintained aid station with plenty of eager volunteers offering water and then finally at the 1.5 mile turnaround another cheerful volunteer sending us back the way we had come.

I have not really trained much this year. Having had pneumonia a few months before I was not sure how my pace and race would be. I decided to take it easy and maintain a steady but slow pace and minimize the walk breaks. This plan worked very well and I was pleased with the effort. Rounding the turn for home was so nice. Like everyone does, I picked up the pace and finished strong.

A volunteer handed me a finishers medal and another a bottle of water. As  drank the water Diane and then Bob would come across the finish. It was great seeing them there for their second time of running this 5k. Bob would end up getting 2nd in his age group and has they had to leave for home promptly I did the honors and picked up Bob's award. It was an ESPY award moment!!

Just like last year the race had secured a number of food sponsors who supplied their products. Zoups was my favorite plus some different choices of yogurt from TCBY, coffee from Starbucks and a good selection of bagels, fruit and salted type snacks. There was a place supplying chicken sandwiches but as a vegetarian I took a pass on those. Onto the award and despite the still rainy conditions many had stayed around. The timer "Its Race Time" did a great job of producing the results quickly. Top placing were presented a bag with their awards inside. Last year my friend, Janeth, won the female race and got some nice awards so guessing this year was no different. Age group (top 3) got a placing disc that fits on the back of their finishers medal, cool idea. Then it was time for home.

Despite the weather Longwood PTA, the race staff and volunteers put on another great event. The proceeds from the race go to Longwood PTA to provide things for the kids at the school, a worthy cause. I highly recommend "Run with the Lions 5k". I'll be there in 2016 and hope you think about attending too.             

Photos of the winners below. Congrats to Keely and Sam.

Photos and logos borrowed from the race website and Facebook page.
Any copyrights owned by the race and Longwood PTA.

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