Xterra is a group that puts on off road triathlons. They have gone from a once a year race in Hawaii to a massive race series that includes “franchised” local triathlons, regional championships in the USA and Global, a World championship. In recent years they added trail runs at the regional’s and now stand alone trail races across the country.
Nearest Xterra came to Chicagoland was the previously twice held Mid West Xterra Championship in Milwaukee and Xterra Dino triathlon in Indiana. Palatine’s Running Unlimited through RD Scott Bush has brought Xterra to the Chicagoland area for 2007 in the form of a 3 race series of trail runs at Deer Grove Forest Preserve, Palatine IL. http://fpdcc.com/tier3.php?content_id=68&file=map_68c June was 8k, July 10k and August 12k. http://www.chicagotrailseries.com/
A few ChiAdead members did the June event and had a blast. I was unable to make the first two events but signed up for the August 12k which per the RD promised to be the most challenging. Race morning up early for the drive north along Rt 59 and of course it is raining. After about 20 minutes the rain is so bad, the roads are flooding and visibility is down to almost zero I had to pull off the road to wait the storm out. After 10 minutes the rain let up and it was safe to drive on. Of course I knew this rain was going to make for a muddy course even though part of the course would be on limestone.
As I pulled into park my friend and ultra runner extraordinary Juli was getting out of her car. We headed over to packet pick up, running into ChiA RebeccaR, before getting our goody bags and cool T shirts at the preserve picnic shelter. Already in the shelter was Paul and Brian then Kelly arrived a few minutes later. Brian was nursing a fractured foot so had offered his services as a race volunteer (he’d be traffic road marshal at 0.25 and 7.25 miles). The two previous’ races had around 100 runners but probably due to the weather only 48 toed the line for the 12k, guessing very few race day entries and a lot of no shows.
So it was time to get dirty. Race announcer Eric got us to the starting line and described the course and info on markings (which had to be redone due to the storm). First part (3.5 miles) was on the limestone path, middle 2 miles on single track and last 2 miles back on the limestone. I started at the back and ran with Juli, Kelly and RebeccaR for oh 200 meters before the two ChiA “twins” disappeared around the corner. Juli recovering from two broken legs suffered during a 6 day ultra kindly hung with me. In the first 3 miles we encountered a few hills by Chicago standards, a flooded car park, a washed out trail and a kind soul manning a aid station. We finally reached the single track except this was the exit after the 2 mile section and we had to continue on along 1.5 miles of limestone before having the dirty fun. This 1.5 miles would be covered twice and therefore elite fast runners where now passing us. Finally for real we got directed onto the single track and immediately hit a nice slippery tree root covered down hill slope. I love single track dirt running but tend to stop in my tracks the first time I get to such a place. I gingerly took my time going down which I knew once down one I’d be fine for the rest of the single track. In places the single track was almost half track with some nice sections of roots, more deep slippery mud and water covered trails and a number creek crossings some with planks to cross on. The single track was a blast and we exited back onto the limestone shoes and legs covered in mud for the final 2 mile push for home. Finally we crossed the road where Brian was waiting patiently for slow poke Ian and made the turn into the picnic shelter area to cross the finish line in DFL (look it up but be PC). A few people were there to cheer us in. Juli was second in her age group and received a medal. In fact they gave me one too which I thought was a finishers medal until turning it over I realized they got it wrong and promptly returned the piece of hardware.
The ChiAs sat around for a while chatting and then either went home or out for breakfast.
What a great race and I hope Running Unlimited holds the Xterra Trail Run Chicago Series again in 2008
Results at: http://www.racetime.info/2007Results/XTERRA%203%20O.HTM
Photos by Brian Gaines: http://picasaweb.google.com/BrianNLT/XTERRAXTREMETrailRun12K