Fall has officially arrived in the Chicagoland area. The change in the season has brought with the cooler temperatures that so many local runners crave. Although the leaves on the trees are just starting to change, 1,151 participants brought their own unique color palette of running attire on Sunday to the 10th annual Fall Color 5k Run & Walk at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.
While packet pickup was available at the local Dick Pond Athletics for three days before the event, I opted to pay a $10 fee to get my bib and t-shirt on race morning. Unless you are coming from the Southern suburbs, I would suggest paying the fee for the mailing or race-day service. There was also a virtual run option for those who couldn’t make the event but wanted to support the Arboretum.
When I arrived, I was surprised by the throngs of people who came out for this great event supporting the Arboretum’s efforts to plant and protect trees. There is ample parking as well as a shuttle from some of the overflow lots. I have never seen so many individuals at a 5k Race & Walk! At 7:45, it was oddly comforting to have Dave Kappas, the announcer at many major running event in Chicago, ask us to seed ourselves at the startline.
The race began a few minutes later sending the mass of runners up the seemingly never ending “Frost Hill”. While it isn’t a steep climb, the consistent ascent at the beginning of the race was significant enough to take me by surprise. This scenic 5k loop certainly has a lot of rolling paved paths. Fortunately, there were plenty of cheering volunteers at the two water stations and on course to make sure everyone knew where make their turns.
By the second mile, I knew misjudging the first hill meant I needed to adjust my pace accordingly. I began to shorten my strides uphill and lengthen them on the descents. This is a strategy I started employing this year and it really has seemed to make a difference. I am not walking up as many hills as I have in the past.
Just before the three-mile mark athletes began to once again hear the finish line announcer. Meadow Lake comes into view and if you took a quick look to the left you may have caught a glimpse of one of the six whimsical trolls that Danish artist Thomas Dambos crafted from reclaimed wood that are hidden throughout the property.
After crossing the finish line, participants were handed an eco-friendly Boxed Water and offered a selection of mini bagels and bananas. DuPage Medical Group was available for free post race stretching. And the live band “This End Up” provided entertainment for those enjoying their complimentary Arbor Oak Amber Ale.
Top Finishers in each Age group were able to pick up their beautifully crafted wooden medals just before the kids dash. After the festivities, attendees and spectators alike were encouraged to stick around to explore the grounds and maybe look for the remaining trolls! What a great way to start the fall running season in Chicagoland!”