Adventures In Running


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Written By: The Hornet - Feb• 27•12

Note:  Chapter 3 in the Melissa Story will be delayed and is usually posted on Mondays. It is already written and very good but I am waiting on some feedback in regard to turning this into a full book.  Thank you and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

With so many races completed last year and the spring racing season quickly approaching, I would like to take this opportunity to reminisce about some of the best organized races of 2011 and others that were a bit of a disaster.


The Splish Splash Half Marathon in Gurnee, Illinois held it’s inaugural event on May22nd, 2011.  For a first year race they did a magnificent job putting it all together.  Results were posted quickly and the Luau after the race was the best post race party I have ever attended.  The food choices were virtually endless, pretty healthy and also included a pig roast.  Not to mention beer and tropical drinks from the bar.  The entire event was held outside with live Hawaiian entertainment and a pleasant staff waiting on you.  For $55 this race can’t be beat.

The Parke County Marathon & 50k is an event put together on a very limited budget.  With that said, the director does an excellent job marking the course, setting up numerous aid stations and a providing a very nice finish medal.  The scenery in Bridgeton, Indiana is spectacular and this course takes full advantage.  You run along beautiful tree lined trails and through seven of the areas numerous covered bridges, some of which date back to the 19th century.  This race is one that must be experienced by all distance runners looking for a new challenge.

The S-NO-W Fun Run is a great race to kick off the year.  Located at the exclusive Grand Geneva Hotel in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this five mile race takes place in the first week of January.  Room rates are cut substantially for runners staying the night.  After crossing the finish line you will be directed back inside the main ballroom where multiple flavors of schnapps are lined up in shot glasses to get you warmed up.  Shortly after the last runner crosses the finish line the party kicks off with the award ceremony, dancing and free brats, burgers and beer.  You can’t beat this event for $35. We know how to race up here in Wisconsin!

The Undie Dash 5k in Chicago, Illinois is held right on the lakefront during an evening in late July.  This unique event is not for the shy runner.  While not mandatory, everyone runs in their underwear on a public path.  The race directors do request that all underwear be tasteful and subject to review by race officials before the start of the race.  Once the race is completed you are directed to walk approximately 6 blocks, in your underwear, to Kroll’s South Loop where they host a banquet for all the runners.  It’s a good thing runners are in good shape.


Hannibal, Missouri is the setting for the Mississippi River Run 5 and 10k.  One of the great points of this race is the course. It starts by taking you over a bridge and across the Mississippi River.  The rest of the run is nothing short of challenging with it’s rolling hills and a half mile downhill sprint to the finish line.  You would think this sounds great but unfortunately the people that direct this race are completely inept.  Not only did it take hours to get the results for the 10k, they were hopelessly inaccurate and the people in charge of the timing really didn’t seem to care.  After conceding that they didn’t know what had gone wrong, they gave up trying.  It is very unfortunate that what could have been a great racing experience ended on such a low note.

The Winterfest 5 and 10K in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is a race you wish you had never signed up for once you get started.  Sure, it’s cold in early February and the course is one of the most challenging that I have ever faced.  But this is not a problem.  The problem is that the race director has been known to change the course the night before and neglect to mark it properly.  Last year half of the runners went one way and they other half ended up running through someone’s driveway because of a hastily placed sign that could not have been more confusing.

By now I am sure you all have heard about the total failure that was the Rock n’ Sole Half Marathon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  You don’t see too many distance races scheduled in the heat of July for a reason.  Apparently this did not occur to the race directors when they were calculating hydration requirements for the runners.  It was a hot day and quickly the water supply for most of the competitors came to a grinding halt.  If you did manage to make it to mile 11 or 12, the course was black flagged and runners were told that there would be no recorded time. If that wasn’t enough, they managed to run out of bananas at the finish.  So, let me get this straight, 5000 people pay $80+ to run your race and you can’t even provide water and bananas?  Fifteen people ended up in the hospital even with the race being cut short and after denying anything went wrong for days they FINALLY issued an apology.  My prediction is that they will screw this up again this year.  Run at your own risk.


This race undoubtedly wins the title of “The Ugly”.  Thirteen miles of nothing to see and course planning was poor at best.  I am referring to the Halloween Skeleton Skamper Half Marathon and 5k in Racine, Wisconsin.  It starts off nice with most participants wearing costumes and having a good time but very quickly takes a bad turn.  Two major problems plagued this thirteen mile debacle.  First the course is laid out across a few train tracks and right as you reach mile 2 you are stopped by a passing freight train that seems to go on forever.  Quite a few people had to wait minutes for this fun crushing Leviathan to pass and very few runners did not suffer a colossal loss of time because of this.  Second, with the roads still being open to traffic you would think the race directors would set the course up so you could see the oncoming traffic.  Apparently not!  They had us run on a very narrow shoulder with the flow of traffic on a road with rolling hills.  Nothing could be more unsafe and this was proven to be true when one runner was struck by a passing car.  Obviously this put her out of the race but thank God she was not seriously injured or worse.  Put this race down in the books as one to stay away from.

© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running

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