The annual Pure Pikermi Half-Marathon and Relay took place this Sunday in Sugar Grove, Illinois. This low-key running event started five years ago as a relay race with two runners sharing the duties of completing the race. Speaking to Race Director Tom Spadafora, he told me how early on he got feedback from runners who wanted to see a solo race added; thus, a solo event was added to complement the relay. He added that all proceeds benefit the Semper Fi Fund, a charity that provides support programs for service members and their families.
The race starts and ends on the campus of Waubonsee Community College. With a start time of 7 a.m. I encountered little traffic on my drive to the race. The Pure Pikermi had a smaller field of runners than you would find in some of the bigger name half-marathons, but I welcomed that. I knew the field would thin out on the course soon enough and there wouldn’t be any issues with jostling or bunching up along the way.
As the race started, I settled in for a tour of the Virgil Gilman Trail on which the race is run. This trail would take us halfway out before we turned around and headed back west to the finish line. The course is mostly paved asphalt and takes runners through a very scenic experience. Plenty of meadows, fields, forests, wildlife and bridges helped the miles roll by.
A pre-race announcement did mention that there was a 75-meter long stretch of ankle-deep water on the course about a mile into the race due to all the recent rain. When I got to this area, I found many runners taking their socks and shoes off to walk barefoot through the water. I decided to just slosh through the water with my socks and shoes on. As I got across the stretch of water, I saw a race official handing out towels to runners so they could dry their feet. I didn’t know about the towels. Maybe it was announced, and I didn’t hear it. I would have preferred to run the race in dry shoes fearing blistering, but it turned out well. No feet or shoe issues surfaced.
At about mile five I came up along Heather Schmidt of Naperville who was also running this event for the first time. We ran the rest of the race together cheering on runners headed in the other direction and talking about training, racing, family and other small talk. We both agreed the weather was perfect for a half-marathon.
Heather and I crossed the stretch of water again on our way back with a mile to go in the race and decided to run through it with shoes on. The cool water was refreshing on tired feet. Crossing the finish line, we received our finishers medal and said our good-byes.
The Pure Pikermi half-marathon is a low-key affair that I hope attracts more participants in the future as it benefits a worthy cause and delivers both a picturesque and relaxing race experience.