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Thursday, May 24, 2012 06:05 am

Release the beast

Biking, running, swimming and obstacle courses in the capital city

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A rider pedals around Lake Springfield during the 2011 Capital City Century put on by the Springfield Bicycle Club.
PHOTO BY MASON LOTT

With such mild and beautiful weather so far this year, it’s a great time to go outside and get some exercise. And while you’re at it, why not play in the mud?

Springfield and the surrounding area host a quickly growing number of athletic races each summer, including a popular cycling event and several foot races and triathlons. But this year, there’s a new type of race that promises to get down and dirty.

Team Warrior Concepts, a mixed martial arts studio in Springfield, is hosting its first Beast Mode Challenge this year on Sept. 29. It’s a foot race with an obstacle course that includes mud pits, fire pits, ice pools, hill climbs, rope courses, cargo nets, slides and even a “mystery tent.”

Jennifer Ward of Springfield, who owns Team Warrior Concepts with her husband, Scot Ward, says the name “Beast Mode” comes from the idea of tapping into your inner animal to push yourself to new limits. The Beast Mode Challenge is billed as being “in the spirit and attitude” of the popular Warrior Dash, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder races that pop up across the country. If Springfield’s version is anything like those larger national races, prepare for a seriously fun, challenging and dirty race. And in the spirit of fun, the race includes an all-day afterparty with music, food and beer.

Ward says teams from Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis have already signed up, and the race is limited to 5,000 participants. Parents, students or staff at local schools can also designate their school to receive a percentage of the race proceeds. For more information, visit www.teamwarriorconcepts.com.

Two cyclists fly around a corner during the 2012 Pioneer Sprint Triathlon in Petersburg on April 21.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY HARDYBREED.COM
If you’re not quite ready to wallow in the mud, there are several cleaner options, though no less sweaty.

One summer staple is the Abe’s Amble 10K (6.2 miles) race held by the Springfield Road Runners Club on Aug. 19, the final day of the Illinois State Fair. The route takes runners from the fairgrounds to Lincoln Park and Oak Ridge Cemetery before returning to the fairgrounds.

Each year leading up to the Amble, the Springfield Road Runners Club offers the Abe’s Army training program to prepare runners for the Amble. The friendly group is good for both first-timers and experienced runners. Registration for Abe’s Army includes the cost of signing up for the Amble, and you get a custom sweat-wicking shirt. For more information, check out www.2012abesarmy.blogspot.com.

If a 10k race seems a bit ambitious, or if you just prefer a shorter race, check out the two-mile Illinois State Fair Parade Run. It’s held on Aug. 9, the first day of the State Fair, and it starts and ends at the fairgrounds. Visit www.srrc.net for more information.

Coming up immediately are two separate events on the same day less than a mile apart. The Capital City Biathlon features a 5k run and a 15-mile bike ride, starting at 7:30 a.m. on May 26 at the Lake Springfield Beach House. Visit www.capitalcitybiathlon.com for more information. Just a half-hour later at 8 a.m. on May 26 is the Fifth Annual Brian McMillen Memorial Run/Walk, which offers a one-mile walk, 5k run or 10k run at Lincoln Land Community College. The event benefits the LLCC Brian McMillen Veterans Scholarship and other causes. For more information, visit www.llccveteransclub.org.

The Fight for Beth 5k run and two-mile walk in Washington Park is also May 26. Proceeds from the race help Springfield mom Beth Turner pay for brain cancer treatments, with a small portion going to the American Cancer Society. Visit www.sites.google.com/site/fightforbeth5k for more information.

Runners power through a one-mile run during Abe's Mini Triathlon in Petersburg on April 21.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY HARDYBREED.COM
Nearly 2.3 million Americans participated in triathlons in 2010, making the three-sport event one of the fastest growing races in the U.S., and the Springfield area is part of that growing trend.

Tri Harder Promotions of Petersburg puts on several triathlons during the warm months, including the Iron Abe Olympic Triathlon and the Stoneman Sprint Triathlon. Both races take place on July 28 at Lake Springfield. The Iron Abe race is a 9/10-mile swim, then a 24.8-mile bike ride, followed by a 6.2-mile run. The Stoneman race is roughly half of that, with a 500-yard swim, 12-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.

The following month, Tri Harder puts on another pair of triathlons in Petersburg on Aug. 11. The Stovepipe Sprint Triathlon consists of a 500-yard swim, a 13-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run, while the longer Railsplitter Triathlon is a 9/10-mile swim, a 24.8-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run. Visit www.abrahamlincolntriathlonseries.com for more information.

Kids in Springfield have their own race in the Kids ‘n Control Triathlon July 21, put on by the Gen H Coalition, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, the Springfield Tri Club and Kohl’s. Meant to promote healthy, active kids, the triathlon offers two different races. The first is open to kids ages 6 through 13, with a 100-meter swim, 1.25-mile bike ride and -mile run. The “mini” version open to 5- and 6-year-olds consists of a 50-meter swim, 0.6-mile bike ride and quarter-mile run. Bike helmets are mandatory. Visit www.springfieldtriclub.com/kidstri for more information.

Those who are strictly into bikes will want to check out the Capital City Century, a major cycling event in Springfield that draws nearly 1,000 riders, including some from other states. Planned for Sept. 9, this year’s Century marks the event’s 40th anniversary. While not technically a race, many riders challenge themselves and each other during the event, which offers 25, 40, 62 and 100-mile distances. The ride starts and ends at the Lake Springfield Beach House and offers multiple food stops, showers and a “Post-Pedal’n” party afterward. For details, check out www.spfldcycling.org/ccc.

Information on more foot races in central Illinois is available at www.srrc.net.

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.

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