As in prior years I consulted my go-to race expert, Eileen Skisak, a member of the Oak Park Runners Club, who by mid-May had already run 22 races this year. A couple years ago she ran an incredible 70 races in one year, so if she can’t recommend some good local races, nobody can.

Out of hundreds of races throughout Chicagoland every year, I have tried to pick out a few good summer events in our west suburban area. Even though you may be an experienced runner, racing during the hotter summer months is a good way to stay competitive and be ready for the fall racing season. Your performances will probably suffer in the heat, but you’ll get stronger. So here is a mix of competitive and lower-key races to occupy your summer weekends.

I have always liked the Western Springs Tower Trot 5K/10K, on May 24 this year, so sign up quickly. It’s a long-standing, family-friendly race winding through the streets of Western Springs. You can run the 5K, the 10K or both (like Skisak does) if you’re ambitious.

As always, the top-rated races are those on the Runners Choice Circuit, sponsored by the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). These are well-organized and attract some of the most competitive runners. Three Circuit races this summer are in the western suburbs – Roselle’s Run for the Roses 5K on June 1; the Downers Grove 5 Miler on June 22; and 4 on the 4th in Elmhurst, a 4-miler on the Fourth of July.

The LaGrange Rocks 5K on June 6 is an evening race, for something different. Kids’ events start at 6:00 p.m. and the 5K starts at 7:00 p.m. Also on that weekend is the Cosley Zoo Run 5K and 10K in Wheaton on June 7. And the following day is the Loyola Health, Hope and Heroes 5K on Sunday, June 8, run entirely within the Loyola/Hines medical center complex in Maywood. If you’re a complete race junkie, you could do these three races in that single weekend (not recommended).

I mentioned the Elmhurst 4 on the 4th, above, but another nice July 4th race is Riverside’s Independence Run 5K. Starting and finishing at the famous water tower in downtown Riverside, it curves through the town’s beautiful winding streets. The race is followed by the town’s annual parade, so stick around and watch the show afterwards.

On July 13 is the Xtreme 10 Miler on the trails at Waterfall Glen forest preserve in Darien. If you want to try a trail race, this one has a pretty good reputation. But at least twice it has been washed out by huge rainstorms the night before. Mother Nature sometimes messes things up.

Something completely new this year is the Christmas in July event in Lisle on July 18-19. It includes a standard 5K and 10K, but also 6-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour ultra runs (ultras are anything longer than a marathon). Wow! According to their website, the ultra runners do continuous laps around a one-mile course so nobody gets lost in the wilderness. Another one that weekend (a bit less ambitious) is the Run for Hunger 5K, in Elmhurst, on July 20.

Not as many races are scheduled in August during the peak heat weeks, but the Windrunner 10K in Wheaton, organized by the Wheaton Windrunners club is a good one. And last year a few of us ran the Parkie’s 5K in Bolingbrook, finding it to be a nice, well-organized event on Saturday, August 23.

And on September 1 is the Oakbrook Half Marathon which has gotten a pretty good reputation in recent years.

The list above should give a nice choice of local races for this summer, but during my search I stumbled on one called the Clothing Optional 5K at Turtle Lake Nudist Resort in Union Pier, Michigan (obviously not quite in our neighborhood). The race website says, “No cameras/video recorders or other photographic devices will be permitted!” Okay, but how do you attach your race number?

Enjoy your summer races!

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