The Rockdale Ramblin’ 10k is a race that I suggest everyone try.
Wait, scratch that. The Rockdale Ramblin’ 10k is a race that I recommend everyone try twice.
The first year, you should head down to the small town of Rockdale so the course can kick your butt. The second year, so you should do it to see if you learned anything after the first time.*
This is a race that teaches runners patience and it teaches them how to run without having to pay attention to their watches. If you are the kind of person that needs your GPS watch to control everything you do, this is not your kind of race.
There is a reason why it is still known as “the Toughest 10k in the Midwest,” a fact that is written on the sleeve of the hoodies the runners receive. You’ll know what kind of course you are in for after about a third of a mile when you make a turn onto what I like to call “Oh Crap Hill.” (I like to call it that because as soon as you make the turn, all you hear from the people around you is “oh crap.”)
Race day is typically a cloudy, cool, windy day but the 2016 version was anything but. Warmer temps and sunny skies made for an extra challenge this year, but the Joliet Park District folks do a great job with the aid stations and volunteers along the course to keep you motivated.
Also, I am not normally a guy that clamors over finishers medals, but the dogtag style medal you receive at this race is one of the coolest in the area.
So next winter, get some hill work in an get prepared for this race in April. Your quads might hate you for a couple days, but you’ll be a tougher runner for it at the end.
*Side note: Even if you know the course and have done the race several times, it can still kick your butt, as I discovered around mile 2 this year.