Looking for local summer races in or near the western suburbs? Those hard core runners can always find high-intensity events, and many are willing to travel long distances to find them. And there are hundreds of races throughout the Chicago area. But for most folks, running an occasional race during the hotter months is a good way to keep in shape, stay competitive and be ready for the fall racing season.
One of my long-time favorites is the Western Springs Tower Trot 5K/10K (it's on May 25, so hurry up and send in your entry). A family-friendly race winding through the streets of Western Springs, it has been around foår many years. You can run the 5K, the 10K, or both if you're feeling really ambitious. One year the Race Director gave me race bib Number 1 -- embarrassing, since I feared it might convey the impression that I was a star runner. At least I managed to win my age group that day.
The top regional races each season are those on the Runners Choice Circuit, sponsored by the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). These events are well-organized and attract some of the most competitive runners. Three of them are in our general neighborhood – Roselle's Run for the Roses 5K on June 2; the Downers Grove 5 Miler on June 23; and 4 on the 4th in Elmhurst, a 4 miler on July 4th, of course.
Another nice July 4th race is Riverside's Independence Run 5K. Starting and finishing at the famous water tower in downtown Riverside, it follows sort of a triangular route through the town's beautiful winding streets. The race is followed by the town's annual parade, so stick around to watch the show afterwards.
Friday evening, June 7 is the LaGrange Rocks 5K. This race differs from the more common morning races since it starts at 7:00 p.m. Another local 5K that same weekend is the Health, Hope and Heroes 5K on Sunday, June 9th, sponsored by Loyola Medical Center in Maywood. The race is run entirely within the Loyola/Hines medical center complex.
My foremost authority on local races is Eileen Skisak who races almost every week -- sometimes competing in two or three events in a single weekend! She always likes the Chicago Firefighters Run for the Kids 5K (this year on Thursday evening, July 18th) at Soldier Field campus on Chicago's lakefront. Obviously, not quite in the western suburbs, it's a family oriented race, featuring post-race food and beer, plus a DJ and discounted parking. Eileen also gives a thumbs-up to the LaGrange Rocks evening race, mentioned above.
Bill Coffey, a member of the Oak Park Runners Club, recommends running "any poorly-publicized inaugural race." His rationale: "You might win." And he has a point. If you are resigned to always finishing behind the more talented runners, sometimes a small, less publicized race can provide an opportunity for you to earn an age-group medal. There's nothing like a race medal to boost your spirits and ego.
Between races, the Oak Park Runners Club offers fun runs on Monday evenings (6:30 p.m. at the Competitive Foot store in Downtown Oak Park), and Saturday mornings (7:00 a.m. at the corner of Madison and Home). All runners are welcome.
Again, there are many races every weekend through the summer in addition to those mentioned above. Check on-line sources such as the Chicago Area Runners Association (cararuns.org) or Chicago Athlete Magazine, among others. Like most runners, you'll find a few personal favorites. And with so many choices this summer there's no excuse not to stay in shape for the prime racing months when the weather gets cooler. Happy running!
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