In January The Race That's Good for Life was again named Race of the Year by the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). That's three in a row – a three-peat– which I don't think has ever happened before. This event is the pride and joy of the Oak Park Runners Club, and Race Director John Kolman is again primed to put on a high-quality show.
The 2015 version, Number 34, will get a slight name revision, becoming the Good Life Race, since the old name was, frankly, a bit cumbersome. Regarding the name change, Kolman says, "Today's brands have to adapt to the texting/Twitter world of 140 characters. We found a lot of participants were abbreviating the race name to fit it into their posts. So we tried to shorten the name in a way that respected the race's heritage, yet was a bit easier to say and write."
Acknowledging that another "best race" award will be a tough objective, Kolman notes that the CARA Race Circuit includes other high quality races, but praises the excellent volunteers at his event, saying "They won't let the participants down."
Once again, the race will benefit The Collaboration for Early Childhood, which last year received $15,000 from the Oak Park Runners Club. Collaboration staff members and child care providers also are enthusiastic race day volunteers.
Sponsorship is up 20 percent over last year, reflecting good work by race committee members, who start their race planning efforts about eight months in advance. It's also likely that the event's good reputation has contributed to the healthy sponsorship levels. And it should be noted that the Wednesday Journal has been a sponsor for most of the race's history.
Its unique feature is separate 5K races for women and men, plus a 5K Fitness Walk, a Youth Mile for kids up to 12 years old, and a Junior Dash for younger kids. The race is part of the CARA circuit of competitive races, and has been designated as the state championship 5K event by the Road Runners Club of America.
This means that there will be some pretty talented runners in the field, but the race is still designed to be very family friendly. The "his and hers" 5Ks mean that one parent can watch the kids while the other one runs, and the kids can run in their own events.
Race date is Sunday, April 12. As always, there is no race day registration, so participants must sign up in advance at http://race.oprc.net/race/.
I've been involved with every one of these races since that first one back in 1982. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, but 34 consecutive races is still a mighty impressive number.
Watch for race posters throughout the village and ads in The Wednesday Journal. We'll see you on April 12. I'll be the guy with the starter's pistol at the starting line, and I predict it will be cool and sunny -- a perfect race day.
Paul Oppenheim is a member of the Oak Park Runners Club.
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