I often have trouble motivating myself to run while I’m on vacation so if I can find a race of some sort wherever my destination is I’ll try to fit it in. Every year since I since I’ve known my now-husband we have spent a long weekend in Effingham, Illinois at a sort of informal family reunion. Most of the weekend is spent hanging around by his aunt’s pool and trying to ace out old ladies at the church picnic BINGO tent, but we also have made it an annual event to run the Colin Woods Memorial Bulldog Challenge 10K. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be down in Central Illinois, but you never know – and just in case here’s a race recap for you:
Sign-up: It’s not like the race is EVER going to sell out, but I still dutifully print out the registration forms and mail them in a few weeks before the race. It’s also possible to register the morning of the race. The race is a paltry $25 whether you do the 5K or the 10K and you get a small-town style goodie bag with a tech-t, a can coosie (or whatever you choose to call them), a mini-flashlight, and some race flyers. The race is put on by the St. Anthony High School Booster Club in memory of a student who died shortly after graduating and I’m sure the money raised goes toward a good cause.
Getting there: Effingham is known for the fact that two major highways cross, and at the cross someone paid to erect a HUGE cross statue. It’s seriously big. But, because of the two major highways there is just about every kind of hotel you could want. We stayed at the Holiday Inn and the start of the race was about 10 minutes away by car. Since it’s held at the school there is plenty of parking.
Packet Pick-up/Pre-race: I got the most sincere thank you I have ever received when I picked up my packet – the volunteer was truly grateful that my husband and I were participating. There was no line and I had my bib# in seconds. They open up the school so that racers can use the flush toilets – always appreciated.
Start: The race starts at 8am which is not such a great idea for a sunny course in central Illinois. Every year I try to find someone to suggest that they start at 7 or 7:30, but it hasn’t happened yet. I think the race used to start at 8:30 when it was only a 5K, but there was one super-hot year and I think some people didn’t feel so great when the race was over so they moved the start to 8am. The race never starts on time because the priest does a blessing and the family of Colin Woods also speaks about him and thanks everyone for participating.
Course: Nobody is doing this race for the awesome or scenic course. It starts out residential for a few blocks, goes though a small park and then it’s cornfields for a couple of miles. Another housing development with a hill, then a totally un-scenic mile along a highway access road (on steamy blacktop no less). Another little bit of cornfield and then up an Alpine-quality hill only to continue winding up yet another hill through another housing development. Then through a small grassy area to the high school track (also steamy and black) where you have a humiliating lap with everyone watching you. I’ll assume it’s not humiliating for everyone, but this is consistently one of my worst races every year and I’m usually gasping through the last ¼ mile.
And Back to the Good: The race is the kick-off to the church picnic and after the race they open the beer tent so that racers can pretty much have unlimited beer. They also have plenty of cold water bottles, bananas and granola bars. The male & female winners for the 5K & 10K each get $100 and since my nephew-in-law won the 10K he took us all out for breakfast – it’s good to know speedy people.
What I wore: I almost don’t even need to say it, but I wore my black Oiselle Bum Wrap skort along with their Mio Mesh Tank in dark pink. A Nike Pro Compression sports bra, Balega socks, and my Mizuno Sayonaras completed the outfit. I should have worn a hat or sunglasses because it was BRIGHT out there.