When I arrived to the race site at the Alpine Races Half Marathon in Lake Zurich, I picked up my bib and sweatshirt, and I then ran into a friend of mine in the parking lot. We talked for a minute and he mentioned how he had never run this race before and asked about the course. He had heard it was hilly, but wanted to exactly how hilly it was. I found myself having a hard time describing the course as there are a decent amount of hills, but they were much different than some of the other races in the area.
He would ask, “well, is it like running in Cary or the Quarryman race?” I would say, “no,” as the hills at this race are not nearly as big as the ones from those races, but I could not quite come up with an event in the area that had comparable terrain.
I would describe this race as a slight challenge, though. If you like rolling hills or get bored when running on pancake-flat surfaces, this is a race to seek out.
The Alpine Runners have put on this race for 38 years and it is easy to see why people come back. The course is interesting and scenic as there are different settings to look at — forested, residential and downtown — which helps to break up the 13.1 miles. The volunteers are all friendly and the post-race food bag is filled.
The general atmosphere of the race is very relaxed with most of the participants looking forward to a great, hard run without stressing over split times, getting to the corral, or any of the other of the worries that sometimes come with a half marathon. The course itself helps this atmosphere with its “lollipop” layout (out, loop, and back) which almost lends to the feeling that the race is actually just a bunch of friends who said, “okay, run out to the neighborhood, do the loop, and come back. Last one home’s a rotten egg.”
So, if you are looking for a late summer or early fall half marathon, especially one that can be used as a good stepping stone for a target race later in the fall, the Alpine Races Half will provide you enough of a challenge where you’ll need to concentrate for 13.1 miles without the lines or stress of a much larger race.