World’s Largest Corn Maze 5k

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The World’s Largest Corn Maze 5k, held at Richardson’s Farm in Spring Grove, is a fun experience for all runners, fast or slow. With a race like this, the idea is to have fun, but that doesn’t mean your competitive nature won’t come out as you wind through the corn stalks.

The way the race is set up, everyone’s mindset has to be to just run hard when you are able and however long it takes is how long it takes. The organizers boast that the course has over 250 turns and some of them are with just inches of the previous one.

Here is how the race works: runners are grouped into waves based on time and then lined up at the start line. Runners are then released every two seconds, one after the other, to help alleviate too much bunching up within the narrow path of the maze. As you run through the maze, the course is clearly marked off with ribbon, so as you approach an opening, the “wrong” path is blocked off and you keep going until you reach the open one. You can try to look ahead to see where you are going, but with all the curves and turns, almost making a couple of wrong turns is inevitable. It actually really gets the adrenaline going in your system as you are running, then turning, then running, then turning, all while thinking of where to go next and controlling your body as you go around the next corner.

There are different points in the course where you can see some of the other runners on the path through the corn stalks, which almost gives it a “scary movie monster in the maze coming after you” feeling. Eventually, you get to the end of the maze and pop out for the final sprint for the finish line.

This year’s race was moved a week later due to flooding on the course on the original date. While some runners were able to avoid the rain drops on the new date, a few downpours popped up throughout the morning, leaving some runners with wet and mud-stained clothing as they exited the maze. Most participants seemed to take it in stride, however, and enjoyed the rest of the morning on the farm, seeing the animals, sliding down the giant slide (which was now a water slide with a mud pit at the bottom), enjoying fresh donuts, and listening to the singing chickens.

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Jonathan couldn’t run a mile before his sophomore year in high school but went on to run at Hope College. Now, he runs with the Fast Track Racing Team and races in almost 30 races a year, still managing to run some PRs. He couldn’t win a 100 meter sprint if his life depended on it, but still has a pretty good kick at the end of a 10k. He is the Local Advertiser/Sales employee on Chicago Athlete’s staff, and also volunteers as an Assistant XC Coach at Elk Grove High School and has done that for the past 11 years.

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