This past Saturday, over 200 runners participated in the Arctic Frog 25K/50K in Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville.  Athletes arrived to the race site with ample parking within 100 feet of the start, working bathrooms close by and a warming tent for those that didn’t want to wait in their cars.

The race is a great option for those looking for a 50K and for those wanting to experience a race with an “ultra trail vibe” but not quite ready for an ultra. The weather was great for a December race with temps in mid 30’s along with the bonus of missing the snow by just one day. 

The course was a 25K loop course with the 50K participants completing two loops.  The loop consisted of three out-and-backs of varying lengths with the final stretch being the victory lap around the primary basin before the finish line.  Racers experienced mild elevation changes (some Chicagoans could have considered them major) and a mix of concrete, limestone and trail surfaces.

With limited rain leading up to the event, there was no flooding on the course and no mud or sloppy conditions; for a December race, it was actually perfect conditions.  There were two types of aid stations — some had water only to refill hydration packs racers carried and the others had fully stocked aid stations that looked like refreshments at a party. Along with the usual water and Gatorade, there was soda, Swedish fish, PB&J sandwiches, pastries, peanuts, oranges, pickles, pretzels and many other treats.

For me, I completed the 25K and enjoyed getting one last long run outside in before the reality of a Chicago winter hits. My highlight was asking to snap a selfie with some horse riders. Instead of just smiling on the horse, one rider hopped off and insisted I get on the horse for the picture. After getting my 5’1.5’’ self up onto the horse and getting a huge cramp in the process, I now have a very memorable race photo!

Both winners of the 50K were from Birmingham with one from Alabama and the other from Great Britain!  The male winner, Owen “Mr Uberlube” Bradley (Alabama) set a course record with a time of 3:24:34 and Cass Chisholm (Great Britain) won the women’s race in 4:14:05. Ben Harner (Chicago) won the Mens 25K race in 1:45:32 and Tanya Eggert (Machesney Park, IL) rounded out the overall podiums as the Women’s 25K winner in 2:06:14.

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Nicole once thought that the timed mile in high school was a form of torture. In an ironic turn of events, racing is now part of half her weekends in a given year and would take an early Saturday race over a Friday night out everytime. A self-proclaimed "back of the packer", Nicole loves triathlons and run races with her favorite distances being the half marathon and olympic distance triathlon. She works full time as a health care administrator and lives in Skokie with her husband, son and spoiled dog. You can find her race reports, musing and other random thoughts on her blog.

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