Be Smart With These Upcoming Chicago Races


In the last few weeks, we have seen the cancellation of the Rome Marathon, Paris Half Marathon, and the Abbott World Major Tokyo Marathon. These large races are in addition to countless other events, including many Tri’s and races throughout the US and abroad.
Race directors are making the tough decision to cancel in order to protect the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators, and staff. It’s certainly not an easy one to make, but we, as athletes, should appreciate that our safety is the number the one priority.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t keep participating in organized races. The Los Angeles Marathon took place this past Sunday, and race organizers recommended a few things to attendees including keeping your distance from other participants and utilizing hand sanitizers at aid stations and the start/finish.

In this time of concern, it is important that we keep running. Runners find their calm in the repetitiveness that is innate in the “one foot in front of the other” mentality.

That being said, there are many organized races that you can participate in without immersing yourself in thousands of other people. Two of my favorites are coming up at the end of March that you need to know about. Both of them allow runners to do same-day race packet pick up (no indoor expo’s) and provide for ample personal space at the start line and throughout the race.

The Paleozoic Trail Runs: Cambrian Spring II offers a 25K or 50K distance option and takes place in the Palos Trail System in Willow Springs. This no-frills race is run by Bill and Michelle Thom and is THE best marked trail race I have ever run. You can read my review of last year’s race here.

You are taken into nature, while still remaining in Chicago! “Journey back in time to this rollicking run along forested, unpaved paths of our Palos / Sag Valley Trail Systems within the Cook County Forest Preserve – Regions 6 / 7. We’ve charted a stimulating course that’s sure to satisfy your primordial instinct to “go long.” Are you up to the challenge? Choose your distance wisely… take your training seriously… then come race day, it’s “finish or fossilize!”

This race is scheduled for Saturday, March 21st at 8:30 for the 50K-ers and 9:30 for the 25K-ers. You can register for this race here.

The Lakefront 50K is a staple Chicago race. It has been around for over 2 decades and has seen countless runners earn PR’s on the course. The race starts and finishes on Chicago’s lakefront, at Jackson Park Grove 19A, approximately 100 yards west of the 63rd Street Beach House, and consists of 3 out and back segments. I absolutely love the community aspect of this race. You can read my review of last year’s race here.

This race is scheduled for Saturday, March 28th at 8:00. Parking is super easy and right near the start/finish line. The race directors are both runners themselves, which make a huge difference. Runners are taken care of from start to finish. Not to mention that the course is pure Chicago. Runners are on the lakefront trail the entire time, running along Lakeshore Drive, Lake Michigan, and the beautiful cityscape.

Additionally, the Flatlanders will be out in full force with an aid station to keep everyone going strong. If you’re not familiar with this running group, you have to check them out. Not only are they amazing athletes, but their course support is above and beyond. There is no fee to join this group. The only commitment is to volunteer at a race in the form of a pacer, course support, or aid station, among other things. This aid station is one not to miss.

You can register for the Lakefront 50K here.

Race Directors Bill Thom (Paleolithic Trail Race) and Jeff Fleitz (Lakefront 50K) are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Throughout the years, I have seen both Bill and Jeff participating in each other’s races, providing course support, and promoting each other’s events. Did I mention that they were both runners to begin with??? That is the spirit of the runner’s heart…to encourage and support.

This year they have taken it to a new level. They will each be participating in the others races, just a week apart. This is no small feat, as RD’s have their plates full in the weeks before their events. So, tying in training for a longer race is big deal.
Not only will they be individually supporting each other’s’ races, but they have created a new challenge for Chicago runners. Any runner that signs up for both 50K races will receive a special gift.

“In the spirit of springtime ultra-running we are teaming up to offer a special, very cool, commemorative pint-glass for anyone who completes the 50K distance in both races to mark their back-to-back ultra-achievement. It’s the responsibility of interested participants to register, run, and make the finish line of each race. We’ll take care of tracking, awarding, and honoring ultra back-to-backers!”
-Jeff Fleitz, 50K Race Director

It’s finally spring. Let’s all get out and run. Just be smart about your social distancing and hand hygiene.

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Mandi began running in middle school and never stopped. As a high school and college cheerleader, running was the exact athletic counterpart to keep her fitness levels high. While attending The John Marshall Law School in 2007, Mandi ran her first Chicago Marathon, the final year it was partnered with title sponsor, LaSalle Bank. Mandi has continued to run several marathons and half marathons each year. An Illinois licensed attorney, Mandi is currently the Executive Director of the Lake County Municipal League, a council of government representing 42 municipalities in Lake County. An avid weekend race warrior, Mandi tries to run 2-3 races each month from Milwaukee to Chicago and loves the opportunity to report about her experiences in Chicago Athlete


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