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.