Race to the Flag 5K 

Photos by Glen Liljeberg and the Westmont Rotary Club

It was a scorching day for the ninth annual Race to the Flag 5K; the temperatures were in the mid 80’s early in the morning, and the humidity was not being shy.

The race took place at Ty Warner Park in Westmont, a short 4-minute drive from Chicago. The race is run by the Westmont Park District and People’s Resource Center (PRC), and proceeds from this race go to support PRC’s mission of providing resources to people in DuPage County who are in need of food, shelter, and/or provide education and training.

Did I mention it was hot? The weather in the Chicagoland area is unpredictable, and we all know that; last week was cold and rainy but the holiday weekend brought summer back and it was hot and humid. The race started at 8 a.m. The mayor of Westmont was there and so was local celebrity ABC-7’s Judy Hsu to get the race started.

The course took runners for a flat and fast run through the neighborhood with beautiful views of tree-lined streets. There were only two water stations, one at 1.5 miles and one at the finish line. Usually that would’ve been enough for a short distance event but with the heat, runners could have used another one or two.

The heat got to me at mile two, and all I could think was get to the finish ASAP. As I turned to the finish a runner in front of me collapsed, I called a volunteer over and they took care of him (heat exhaustion was most likely the issue and he was ok afterwards). Despite the heat, I managed to finish first in my age group and sixth overall female! I was pretty proud of that performance on a tough day.

At the finish line the town major cheered on the runners, many families and children enjoyed the race and all the after race celebration. The race featured a free pancake breakfast,  cupcakes, fruit and juice. It looked delicious but I just couldn’t eat after the race; all I wanted was water and some orange juice. I stayed for the award ceremony and hang out with some of the runners. It’s always fun to meet new people.

Great job to race director Gregg Pill, all the volunteers and the Westmont community for supporting this event.

Congrats to the winners, Volker Rose with a time of 19:08 and Jessica Sokolowski with a time of 21:02.

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Erika has been an endurance athlete for over 20 years. She fell in love with running in her 20’s in graduate school, working full time and being a single mother. Running became time for reflection. She has run over 30 marathons and countless triathlons; qualified for 70.3 World championships. To qualify for Kona is her next goal! She loves being a mom to a wonderful young lady and a fur puppy (cocker spaniel). Travel and exploring new places to train around the world is a passion. She is a licensed clinical counselor who specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression and trauma. She spent 15 years in academia and has recently taken a role as a clinical director to focus on her clinical work. Erika believes in the therapeutic benefits of endurance training for people who struggle with mental health illness and stress. She is patiently waiting until we can all travel and race safely again, until then she recommends staying active, healthy. and consistent.


  1. How scary to see a runner go down in front of you! You definitely did the right thing by alerting the professionals. A good reminder to stay hydrated and listen to our bodies while racing in heat. Glad you had an awesome and SAFE race.

  2. P. S. the race course was anything but “flat and fast!” The multiple looped route had many turns…and quite a few inclines, for the Midwest. Fun times, but as you noted, very warm for so early in the day. Nice job Westmont P.D.

    Beanie Baby Bob-


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