On Saturday, I attended the Des Plaines River Trail Races. The annual event sells out every year and it is easy to see why.
Race organizers, Ed Kelly and Terry Madl, are incredibly helpful and communicative, sending out several emails leading up to race day. This year, the Des Plaines River Trail encountered several areas of deep flooding, up to six inches for over 100 feet in certain areas. The RD’s made sure runners knew exactly what the trail conditions were each day, providing a detailed overview of each part of the course. The night before race day, they even sent out an alternate route for those runners who did not want to deal with the portion of the trail that was heavily covered in water for a lengthy portion.
Parking was free and easy with a quick shuttle to the start line for those running the Marathon and Half Marathon. All of the extra crazy runners who were tackling the 50 mile were able to park right at the start line.
There were abundant porta-potties. This is the first race in a long time that I did not have to stand in a line! Plus, Ed and Terry brought out several fire pits to keep runners warm as they waited for their start time. I found myself overly enjoying the hour before the race as we circled a fire pit and chatted about upcoming races.
The distances had staggered start times beginning at 7 a.m. for the 50 milers, 8 a.m. for the Marathoners and 9 a.m. for the Half Marathoners. Racers began by heading south for about a mile and hitting the turn around back to the start line. We then continued north for a 4.5 mile out and back, completing a 6.55 mile total loop.
It was a controlled race, and a great firstitime ultra for anyone looking to try those longer distances out. The course was crushed pavement and heavily tree lined. Mild elevation kept your legs working but the beauty of the trail kept your mind busy.
This is a fantastic, fall, race and I can’t wait to run again next year.
Winners were not posted at the time this article was written.