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


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