Race Review: CARA Spring Trail Chase 10K


Last Sunday I participated in the CARA Spring Chase 10k. This is a new event and part of the CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit Race!

and it did not disappoint. During COVID, race organizer had to become creative by looking at new venues, smaller races and offer the option to run Saturday or Sunday. The race was cap at 300 participants per day. Lemont is only 35 min southwest from Chicago with little traffic in the morning but be prepared for the trip back. It is Chicago after all.

The race took place in The Forge-Lemont Quarries. If you have not been to this trail, I highly recommended. This is a must for runners in the Chicagoland area. The trail surface is well-maintained crushed limestone, with some wooden surface bridge crossings, some gravel, and wood chip. This is also a state-of-the-art adventure park designed to deliver unique year-round activities for adventurers of all ages and abilities. From ropes courses, ziplines, and climbing walls, to mountain biking, hiking trails, and adventurous dining options. The Forge: Lemont Quarries offers exhilarating outdoor adventures, education programs, festivals and live music to entertain adventurers of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. I had no idea this place existed so I will be coming back for some climbing and ziplining this summer.

Back to the race,

The race started and finished at the Forge outdoor music venue, where they had a DJ playing music. It felt like a “normal” summer race (pre-COVID). People gathered around wearing mask, properly distance, following local gathering and safety guidelines. It was definitely a small crowd with a very familiar comfort. That is what I love about CARA races, its community is so supportive.

The course was mostly flat but be ready for a few short hills through the loop (100 ft of elevation) so ok it felt hilly to me, but I think my legs were just tired.  The course proceeds along the Illinois & Michigan Trail Passage, through the Lemont Heritage Quarry Trails, and through The Forge Adventure Park grounds. The course had runners do two loops around the trail which was clearly marked and fully staffed with volunteers. They had two aid stations with small bottle water for runners to grab as they run by.

It was a hot and humid day and the competition was fierce. I was a fantastic Sunday. I truly enjoyed doing another trail race with my quarantine pod, running in a new venue, and seeing so many familiar faces from my CARA days. I want to thank CARA and Greg Hipp for organizing such a terrific event. And thank you to Chad Marek for the awesome pictures. Finally for all of my triathlete friends check out the new sprint triathlon at The Forge taking place on July 17, 2021


Congratulations to all finishers!!

The winners

Mandi Kompanowski 40:51

Jenn Splinter  44:40

Halina Kaminski   45:04


Andrew Rylaarsdam  32:33

Brendan Thielsen  34:20

James Akita   34:31

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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.


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