Not everyone loves RACING. The world is full of people who enjoy running, with no desire at all to compete, nor do they live enslaved to their Garmin watches; munching data, analyzing their performances and training rituals. They just enjoy the run.

Then, some enthusiasts can appreciate their casual runs, and relish spicing up the season with an occasional race, just for the heck of it. There’s also a space, inhabited by fast, competitive and talented athletes who train smart and train hard. If we are lucky, we get to witness their talents and performances.

I live somewhere in the blurry middle of all those kinds of runners. I often say that I love to race, but that I hate the last 25 percent of any race I participate in, regardless of the distance. This is probably because I’m not one of those super-talented (or smart-training) athletes, but I push myself hard enough to where I have to argue with the internal voice shouting “let’s stop, c’mon, this hurts already!” But I love crossing the finish line—and then the pain is just a memory. And in the post-race cool down, I spot some friends, who share some of the horror // triumph of our race, and it’s all good.

The first time I ran a race, I was floored by how fun it was to take over the streets of my town, and by the sense of community that pervaded the scene. The best races create this kind of energy. Even though they may be super-competitive, they promote something more than winning. On Sunday morning, April 8, the Oak Park Runners Club will put on, with the help of approximately 225 volunteers, 25 sponsors and 1,600 participants, the 37th running of the Good Life Race, a family-friendly event that creates just that kind of energy, and more.   

With separate 5K races for women and men, a Youth Mile, 5K Fitness Walk and a 200-meter Junior Dash for the under-5 age group, there is opportunity for anyone to get moving.

For yet another reason to celebrate, The Good Life Race is a not-for-profit event, which has raised over $100,000 over the past five years for its charitable partners. In 2017, Good Life was able to make a gift of $24,000 to the Collaboration for Early Childhood and $7,000 to the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. Even if you’re not a runner, that kind of community-building should inspire you… (say, still plenty of volunteer opportunities open, at press time!)

Not committed yet? Ok. I know that early April weather can be iffy, but odds are better than good that April 8 will be spring-like, and –at least for me, that feels like a celebration, rain or shine. Like a good day to run down the middle of the street with a big smile on my face, (at least for the first 75 percent of the race, that is!). I hope you’ll join me—high fives at the finish!

For more event & volunteering details, visit

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