Thursday, August 18, 2016

Some upcoming Chicago area trail races

Some people are surprised that the Chicago area actually has some places to get in some nice trial running and do trail races. Sure we don't have the mountains of the Western States 100 or even Vermont ultras. Yes some of the trails are on limestone but there are dirt trail races out there including the Frozen Gnome and Earth Day ultras in Crystal Lake, HOBO races in nearby Rockford and a little further north over the board in Wisconsin Ice Age Trail, Kettle Moraine, North Face to name a few in the cheese and New Glarus state. A little south there are trail races in Clinton, Pekin, Peoria and more. I used to live a few blocks from the Chicago Lakefront. It is a fine place to run with miles of mainly car free paths to run but tends to be a little flat and smooth. My first trail ultra was in Greenbush Wisconsin at the Glacial Trail 50k and all my training for that was done on the Lakefront. I moved to a Chicago western suburbs, got a car and found I had access to multiple trail systems. Some was limestone but others had dirt and grass trails even some hills. I love running at Palos (Bullfrog and Swallows Cliff), Knoch Knolls, Greene Valley and McDowell in Naperville which are really close to home. Recently I discovered some trails in Kendall County and Kane County. Veteran Acres in Crystal Lake, home of the mentioned Frozen Gnome and Earth Day races is probably the toughest Chicago area trails. Kettle Moraines I venture to at least once a year but I have trail running friends that get an annual pass.

A few Chicago area trail races in the next few months will see an appearance by myself.

September 10th in Linne Woods, Morton Grove

Distances of 10 miles, 8k and 4 miles and newly added 8 hour. I have not ran here but the RD says the course is "A variety of surfaces make up the Terra Sans Pave racecourse... crushed gravel, dirt and wood-chip paths comprise about 85% of the course, with sections traversing grassy fields".

The RD is local ultra runners Bill and Michelle Thom who also put on the Palos 50k races each spring and fall plus Bill is a finisher of the Grand Slam of ultra race (4 100 miles in just a few months including the legendary Western States 100). His race fees are cheap but he doesn't skimp on the SWAG, medals nor aid station supplies and support. Not yet decided which distance I am going for, maybe the 10 mile.

October 15th in Lake County, Illinois is the Des Plaines River Trail Races.

 Distances of half marathon, marathon and 50 miles. The course is groomed limestone on a very scenic trail system that includes the Des Plaines River, lots of forested area and a few prairies. It is flat unless you only run the Lakefront then it has a few rollers. This will be year 7 of this event and speaking to the RD a few days ago it is excepted to sell out in next few weeks (fastest ever sell out is forecast). Race SWAG includes an awesome T shirt, a nice finishes medal or buckle for 50 mile and a great post race meal (burgers or veggie burgers cooked on site), great aid stations every few miles plus great support of volunteers. I have been at this event every year including finishing the marathon once and the half 3 times. I have also volunteered every year on race day besides the first year (when I run the half I help at packet pick up first - so much inspiration handing the 50  and marathon goody bags out). This year I will run the half, after volunteering. The two RDs, Ed and Terry are ultra runners including both finishing the Badwater 135 ultra. They have a band of support from their families. (Hi LuAnn)   

November 12th at Swallows Cliff in the Palos forest preserve system. Paleozoic Trail Runs 

A 25k or 50k trail race on the trails of Swallow Cliff. 2/3 limestone and 1/3 dirt/singletrack/grass. Includes a few nice hills. Although it is limestone it is not groomed like trails in DuPage or Lake County so if it rains even the limestone can be muddy. This is another race put on by the Thom's. Each year they hold a 25k/50k in Spring and Autumn/winter. One at Swallows Cliff the other at Bullfrog although which venue is used varies depending on issued permit hence Swallows Cliff might occur again in the spring followed by Bullfrog next autumn. Another race I have volunteered at but the plan is to run this time, my distance will depend on training but I would love to do the 50k. Bill designs a unique T shirt for his races and gives a cool finishers medal. Two fully stocked aid stations and an unmanned one at midway on the 15 mile out and back loop. Two loops for the 50k, one for the 25k. Entry numbers are limited due to the permit so sign up as soon as possible.

A few other trail races which I'll include the website. I have run all these races (or on the course in the case of the Aurora and TBunk events)

August 28th Muddy Monk Near Sane Lake County IL
September 9,10, 11 RockCut HOBO races 10k, 25k, 50k
October 8 Farmdale Trail near Peoria IL races 10k to 100 mile
October 8 Run Forest Run Aurora IL 5k and 10k
October 9 Glacial Trail 50m 50k Greenbush WI
November 4-6 TBunk, La Grange WI, Kettle Moraine Trails

If you know of any other trail races within driving distance of Chicago please let me know so I can add if I have time. I concern driving distance to be there and back same day but I've driven to Madison, Champaign, Peoria and back on race days so that is what I feel is driving distance!!

Friday, August 5, 2016

GLASA Twilight 5k August 13th 2016

Registration Fee Increases on
Sunday (8/7/2016) at Midnight.
Guarantee Your Spot Today!
GLASA's 9th Annual 
Twilight 5K Run, Walk and Roll
Join us for one of the largest CARA certified 5K races and BEST Post-Race parties in the Chicago-land area serving competitive and recreational runners as well as athletes with disabilities. The start and finish of the race is the Gorton Community Center, with the race winding through the streets of Lake Forest.
$35.00 - Now thru 8/7
$40.00 - 8/8 thru race day
*Free to Injured Military.  Discounts for Military and CARA members.
Come early to get your hair spray painted with Sports Clips!Get a free
 InBody Scan
Lake Forest CrossFit!

Play games with Mathnasium!

Grab a free water bottle from
Lake Forest Dental!
Check out the "swag" NorthShore University
will be handing out!

FREE massages offered by Wellness Solutions!

Thanks to our presenting sponsor:

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

12 Hours Running in Lisle - Christmas in July

Year three of the Christmas in July ultra races in Lisle, IL. After volunteering the first two years it was time for me to lace up my running shoes and put one foot in front of the other for 12 hours on a 0.97 mile black top loop.


The race is put on by the DPRT RDs Ed and Terry both ultra runners themselves and Brian another ultra runner. Brian was sadly missing from the event this year due to breaking his leg in 5 places 10 days before the event when out trail running. Heal up fast Brian. Christmas in July races (CiJ) have found a following in the local ultra community and are loved by the Village of Lisle. To introduce runners to ultra running the RDs also put on a 5k and a 10k around Lisle's Community Park and neighboring office park. The timed ultra of 6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours are contained in the park itself on a 0.97 mile loop (it was not possible to get exact 1 mile but then ultras are supposed to be a challenge) which is primarily black top paved and a small concrete sidewalk section. Given the fact that myself, the RDs and many of the ultra runners prefer dirt and limestone trails this added to the challenge but then again Badwater which is due to start a few days later is all paved road I was not going to complain.

I picked up my race number, timing chip (on ankle band), T shirt, a BUFF and wooly beanie during the week after work so just had to arrive at the event ready to go. I filled a small sports bag with some things such as change of running gear, a running jacket (it had rained year before), extra pair of shoes, plus a selection of nutrition products and electrolyte mixes. Also had a headlamp, my MP3 player - surprising as I NEVER use music when running and my Garmin which I knew would only last 5 hours. Plus a tote bag with a few water bottles. A fold up seat was in my car as it always is.

Arrived at the Lisle Senior High School which is in the middle of the park - nice setting for a school, finding plenty of parking and in time to meet friends and watch the 24 hour start at 10pm. Once they were off I carried my bag, chair and tote over to my friends Julie and Michelle canopy which was set up near the start/finish area right in the middle of what had become an orderly tent city. My set up was easy. Unfold the chair, put bag beside and arrange water bottles. Tossed my phone and asthma meds (just incase) in my waist pack, donned my favorite Clif Bar cap and turned on my headlamp.

Oh headlamp not working, darn it. Checked it and notice one of the AAA batteries had popped out. I had a small basic handheld light in my bag and by chance it too used AAA batteries, Mild panic over. As it was I ended up not using my headlamp during the race as it was well lit and my eyes adjusted to the darkness very quickly.

Just before 11pm the 12 hours gathered at the starting area so RD Ed could say some words. I started right at the back but a few got to the start line a few seconds later so I was not last to start :-)

The loop was really easy to follow and not because I was following everyone else but there was lights in bags along the whole route plus inflatable Santa, reindeer, snowmen and arrows in the right place. The loop went along the DuPage River, the park lake, over a cool bridge with running water canyon below, around a sled hill with a small climb leading to the tent city, diving back along the lake and festival park stage and into the HQ staging area. Very scenic even after multiple loops.

I had no real goals for this event. Longest run of the year was around 4.5 miles. Seriously thought a half marathon would be nice. No way would an ultra distance happen which was no issue. After 90 minutes I was already at 5 loops. Took a break and thought 5 miles plus a break every 2 hours equals an ultra. I quickly dismissed that thought and it was for the best. Once I had run longer than my limited training my progress slowed dramatically and the breaks got longer. But I was having fun, chatting with friends and cheering everyone on. As I had worked the Friday of the event I knew a nap during the race would be for the best; the one hour ended up being two hours but by that time 14 loops had been completed. Goal achived but more to come. I slept in my trusty fold up chair but with temps being chilly (for July) over night I woke up cold, just glad I had put on a running jacket before the break. Many people who were resting were in blankets and fleeces, smart. Took me a good full loop to warm up basically just hiking. Another break just before daybreak then finishing up with a few extra loops.

Waiting for final results but ended up with 19 loops or just over 18 miles (18.47 I think). Calling it 18 miles and although that is not much for 12 hours I am very happy with the result.

RD Terry was there to greet me when I finished and hand me a 12 hour medal. We chatted about the race for a little bit. I'll be volunteering at his DPRT and maybe running the half as well. Watched others finish their last few loops (fast guys had time for a few more; I finished with some time to spare but not really enough to get more in).

Although I have done four trail 50k races this was only my second timed race. My first which was my first ultra distance was Danville's Howl at the Moon many years (or moons ago). That is held on a 3+ mile loop. Although CiJ was around a mile loop there are some elements that are similar such as seeing the same aid station often, seeing the same runners over and over again - as they pass me, and all the tents.

CiJ is a great event, well organized and so caring for the runners. Next year I will be back but to volunteer. DPRT 50 (plus marathon and half) is in October put on by 2 of the CiJ RDs     

And to end a photo from near the end of the 12 hour. Tom, myself, Michelle and Julie. Tom and Julie did the 24 hour both hitting ultra distance (Tom finished quick so he could leave early). Michelle and I both hit out goals and made it fun. Photo by and from Annette Smith


Thursday, July 14, 2016

CiJ 2016. Running around a misshaped circle

Maybe I can claim I will be chasing and searching for Pokemons. Friday 15th July at 11pm I am running for 12 hours. Well I am signed up to have the chance to run for 12 hours but will likely run some, rest some, hang out some, volunteer some, eat some food, drink some drink, walk some. But no Pokémon will be involved. Hey I don't even know what this craze is.

But the craze I do know is happening in Lisle this weekend as a bunch of crazy ultra runners will be running a nearly one mile loop for 6 or 12 or 24 hours to see how many miles they can or desire to cover.

I volunteered at the event the past two years and now I get to run. Honestly have no training so to speak off and my only goal is to have fun plus of course hang out with the ultra crowd.

I will report back sometime this weekend but might post to Facebook during breaks.

Good luck to all running and volunteering and RDing.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pokanoka 8 mile preview

Last July the 4th (2015) I had the pleasure of running a great no frills 8 mile trail race at Shabbona's Lake, the Pokanoka 8 mile run (and 1.8 mile walk). The pre-entry fee is cheap and if you sign up a week before the race you will get the race T shirt. The proceeds benefits a great cause, domestic violence agency for the prevention. In 2015 there was around 100 people in the 8 miler so small numbers but I feel it could grow. The 8 mile course is all trail mainly wide grass but a few dirt or narrow sections. A few rollers plus one big hill. It ducks in and out of meadows and trees while looping around a big lake. Around a mile out you cross a big earth dam.  Full details are on the race website including deadlines for fees and shirts plus course map.   

Sadly I will now have to miss this year due to a slow training start plus work requirements. Last year I ran with my friends Carina and Mike. We went really slow running, walking. hiking, power hiking. We just had fun out on the trails. I did say if I went back I'd be better trained and run a good loop. Sure I could finish but it would be slow like last year. As I building up for a few other races end of the year I am going to pass on the race this year but encourage you all to do it. I also might be working that day due to some changes and vacations occurring with one of my work centers. Given I need Labor Day off I have no problem working this holiday (plus time and a half pay)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Run with the Lions (April 30th)

Coming up on April 30th is the 3rd annual "Run with the Lions" at St James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, IL. It is back at the original venue after a year at Danada due to major construction.

If the past two years are anything to go by it'll be another awesome race for a great cause. I did the race both years and was impressed by the organization and everything that came with the entry fee.

For race information and signing up head here:

You can read my race review from 2015 on this blog:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

GLASA Chicago Marathon Charity Spots

Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association | Let no one site on the sidelines
Over the past four years or so I have been involved with a great organization to help them put on an evening Twilight 5k race in Lake Forest.
Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) strives to ‘Let No One Sit on the Sidelines’ and operates under a mission to promote and support the optimal development and well-being of youth, adults and military veterans who have a physical or visual disability through the provision of inclusive recreation, fitness and competitive sports activities. GLASA offers opportunities for empowerment through education, leadership and training in collaboration with community-based organizations.
They raise funds to help those that normally can't partake in a variety of sports. Everyone from kids through adults including those that compete in the Paraolympics. One of those fund raisers is a team in the Chicago Marathon. GLASA as secured slots as detailed below.  
If you need more information please contact:
Cherie Hrusovsky 847-283-0908 (she authored the details that follow)
If you have ever wanted to run the Chicago Marathon, GLASA has your chance! GLASA has charity entries for the race and we are trying to spread the word. Do you want to run? Do you have friends who want to run? Please Facebook, tweet, Snapchat, Instagram or otherwise share with your networks! 
There are two different ways that you can join Team GLASA as a marathon runner on Sunday, October 9, 2016!
As a Charity Runner with a Guaranteed Entry: If you need a guaranteed entry to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, GLASA has entries! GLASA can provide you with the opportunity to run in 2016, and you can commit to making a difference in the lives of individuals with physical disabilities. All guaranteed entry charity runners are required to raise a minimum of $1,000 in exchange for their entry, but GLASA will help you with fundraising assistance, a fundraising website, tips etc.
As a Charity Runner with a Non- Charity Entry:  There are a few ways that you can secure entry into the Bank of America Chicago marathon without using a charity entry. You can    1. Qualify as a legacy runner by having completed 5 Chicago Marathons within the last 10 years.    2. Qualify by running a sub 3:15 (men) or sub 3:45 (women).    3. If you do not qualify as a legacy runner or a time qualifier, you can also join the lottery and take your chances of being chosen during the spring lottery selection, March 10-April 21. The lottery option does not guarantee that you get a slot to run the marathon, but if you are successful in securing a slot via the lotto, GLASA will still welcome you to join our team!
If you use a non-charity entry, GLASA suggests a fundraising minimum of $260- ten dollars per mile. You are not contractually obligated to raise the $1,000 required of charity runners. You still receive all of the same benefits as the charity runners and you still get to make a difference in the lives of individuals with physical disabilities as you tackle your marathon challenge.
Benefits of Running with Team GLASA:
- Team GLASA Tech T Shirt
- Fundraising Guidance
- FREE Entry to Twilight 5k
- FREE Entry to the SALUTE 5k/10k
- Race Day Hospitality Room near the finish line
Easy gear check
Massage Therapist
                Continental Breakfast and Light Lunch
- Charity Mile Party for Your Family and Friends on Race Day
- Social Events
- Fundraising Incentives and Prizes
- CARA membership and Training Program
- Race entry reimbursement* (with a $2,000 fundraising minimum)
- The satisfaction of making a difference for individuals with physical and visual disabilities.
More information about Team GLASA and the Chicago Marathon:
Want to Register to Run with Team GLASA? Visit the website for the registration link for Team GLASA.
(Please note this is NOT a registration form for the Chicago Marathon. It is for the charity team. You need to register directly with the Chicago Marathon to secure your marathon entry. The marathon opens for registration on March 8th.)
 We will follow up with more information about fundraising pages, social events and incentives in the coming days. Right now, all you need to do is join the team and share this email with your family and friends so they can also run with GLASA!