Race Review: Des Plaines River Trail Races


The Des Plaines River Trail Races took place this weekend, otherwise known as DPRT. This set of races is a beloved gem in the midwest. Held right around the Chicago Marthon every year, this race serves a different purpose for different runners. It can be an alternate 26.2 to Chicago, it can be a flat-ish ultra that promises cooler temps, or it can be a shakeout half for those recovering from the Chicago Marathon.

Whatever purpose it serves, it’s clear that this race is loved as most runners return year after year. The race offers a half marathon, full marathon, or 50 miler, each with a different starting time. I ran the half this year, which began the latest at 9am. As someone who lives local to the start of this race, it was a pleasant change to roll out of bed at 7:30 am on a race morning!

Runners park at an offsite location and ride a bus the 1.2 miles to the start line, which is located at Half Day Forest Preserve, nestled into the forest preserve system of Lake County. Every year I count on the fire pits located throughout the grassy waiting area to keep me warm prior to my start. This is one of my favorite things about this race. I love the pre-race talk by the firepits!

Race Directors, Ed Kelly and Brian Gaines do an amazing job with all aspects of this race. They send out several pre-race emails to alert runners to various things such as course conditions, parking options, and crew staging areas. It helps that they are two of the kindest people and truly love the running community. Before each race, runners receive a pep talk outlining any course changes and encouraging everyone to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

This fall race showcases the changing of the leaves and beauty of the trail system. The entire course is on crushed gravel and is realtively flat. Aid stations are spaced out along the course and mile markers are clear. Also clear are the course directions. You really have to try to get lost on this one.

“The DPR Trail is a wide, crushed gravel track, free of roots and rocks, and very flat. All of the major road crossings are managed by way of bridges or viaducts (with only 4 minor road crossings along the whole 50 Mile course, 2 on the Marathon course, and none for the Half-Marathon course). This is a great track through alternating lush forests and open wetlands. With cool temperatures expected, and given the flat terrain and ideal running surface, you’ll find these to be extremely fast courses.” – Race website

This is a warm and welcoming race and I encourage you to put it on your race calendar for next year. But, make sure to sign up early because it always sells out! Congrats to all of the runners and thank you to RD’s Kelly and Gaines, and all of the course volunteers.


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Mandi has been running for over 25 years and has participated in the Chicago, Detroit, and Boston Marathons. Mandi regularly competes in regional events and enjoys being a part of several running groups including CARA and the Badgerland Striders. She is a co-host on the Ten Junk Miles podcast and looks forward to hosting the Chicago Athlete Podcast. An RRCA certified coach and Les Mills certified instructor, Mandi is also a coach with Chicago Athlete Coaching. Mandi is a local government attorney by weekday and race warrior by weekend.


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