The LeaderShop of La Grange, Ill. hosted its annual fundraising 5k race Friday evening. Since 1978, the LeaderShop has provided programs that foster confidence, knowledge, and confidence for elementary through high-school youth. The course is a flat, out-and-back one with few turns. The event aptly named La Grange Rocks 5k race started at 7 p.m. preceded by a wheelchair race at 6:00 p.m. and a kids’ 1-mile race at 6:15 p.m. There aren’t many weekday races to run in the Chicago area, so this was a nice change of pace of not having to get up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to race somewhere.
Runners took to the starting line adjacent to the Lyons Township High School practice field. After some pre-race announcements and the singing of the national anthem, I along with close to 300 other runners sped off. What makes this race interesting is the free entertainment along the course. No worries if a racer forgot to bring their music device or earbuds with them; free live music was plentiful this evening. Various “garage” bands were playing live music all along the course. Musically inclined residents with a penchant to perform had set up instruments, microphones, and speakers in front of their homes. Runners were treated to an assortment of music as they progressed through the course.
I saw a trio of gentlemen strumming their guitars and ukulele playing Hawaiian-sounding music as well a group of teens performing a Bruce Springsteen classic. The teens’ rendition was spot on with the lead singer’s vocals and the accompanying electric guitars and drums demonstrating superb talent. There were other rock bands and a fellow playing solo saxophone as well. The musicians who had set up to play along the race route were not bunched up and were spread out through the neighborhood so that they didn’t infringe on each other. I enjoyed running past each musical act, hearing what they had to offer and then looking forward to next musical surprise ahead of us. I didn’t keep count but I think we passed seven or eight musical performances. Hence the name of the race, “La Grange Rocks,” – it sure does!
The finish line brought us back to where we started. There was live music as well as a race photographer. Post-race massages, refreshments, posted race results, raffle prizes and race awards were held on the practice field near the finish. Race award medals were given to the top three male/female finishers in 16 different age categories. In addition, a first place cash prize of $150 is given to the first male and female finisher, while second place finishers receive $100 and third place finishers go home with $50 each.
In the men’s division, last year’s winner Arturs Bareikis of Midlothian, Ill. returned to win this year’s race in a time of 16:21. Verdo Gregory of Western Springs, Ill. finished in second place in 17:07 with Caleb Kadera taking third place with a time of 17:26.
In the women’s division Laura Krasa of Urbana, Ill. was the winning female and fourth overall winning in 18:15. Britney Whitehead finished secondin 18:23 while Jillian Blondell rounded out third place in 19:05.