Fully decorated Christmas trees, an army of nutcrackers and a festive Candy Cane Lane may not be what you'd expect to see at a midsummer endurance racing event, but if you find yourself at the Lisle Community Park July 18-19, you'll surely be feeling festive.
Runners 4 Wellness (R4W), a local organization founded for the sole purpose of fostering active, healthy lifestyles, is producing its first local event: The Christmas in July 5k, 10k, 6-Hour, 12-Hour and 24-Hour races.
With the popularity of running past the traditional 26.2 mile marathon distance growing steadily over the last few years, the local ultrarunning scene has followed suit, with groups sharing miles of smiles on roads and trails all throughout Chicagoland.
“Chicago doesn't have an official local timed event,” said Brian Gaines, one of three Christmas in July race directors, “and with the popularity of New Leaf Ultra Runs’ fun runs and how well suited they are for new and experienced ultrarunners alike, we felt that these timed events would be well received. We also thought this would be a great venue to help drive our mission with our charity partner, Action for Healthy Kids.”
Runners of all events can expect a fun and festive course. The 6/12/24 hour racers will follow a mostly flat, asphalt, USATF certified 1-mile loop at Lisle Community Park adorned with Christmas decorations, lights and luminaries for the overnight hours. The 5k and 10k runners will run on a separate USATF certified 5k loop that shares a small portion with the ultrarunners. There will also be a free fun run for kids.
“We have something for everyone -- shorter distance races, ultra runs, and kid fun runs, so the entire family can enjoy the event," Gaines said.
There will also be a wellness expo, attended by various partners who share Runners 4 Wellness’ mission for fostering active and healthy lifestyles within communities.
Live entertainment by Denial 3 Productions, a professional tribute band of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, will be on hand for runners and spectators alike.
Participants can also expect to walk away with themed race swag.
“Our awards are unique and we think the runners will really enjoy them,” Gaines said. "We really want to give everything one would expect from a race and then raise the bar even higher.”
If running in 1-mile circles for hours and hours isn’t your thing but you still want to be a part of this festive event, grab your cowbell and come out to cheer. Nothing helps a tired runner forget his/her aches and pains quite like lively crowd support.
There are also several volunteer opportunities and pre-registered volunteers will receive a free t-shirt.
The ultrarunning community is famous for its positive, compassionate and supportive atmosphere. Smiles, high-fives and cheers are staples of the ultra scene, so consider being a part of something special this year with the inaugural Christmas in July races.