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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 03:45 am

Test your limits

Find out how far and how fast you can go in area’s competitive runs and walks

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Untitled Document If anyone marks the end of winter’s chill and spring’s fickleness with glee, it’s the capital city’s walkers and runners. They stream out of the woodwork, infiltrating Washington and Lincoln parks, bopping to the beat of their iPods and shaking off the indoor-exercise blues. Many are daytime desk jockeys who crave fresh air and fun in the sun. Others cherish the proven stress-reliever and an opportunity for relaxation and mediation. Still others walk and run a few times a week so they can enjoy their favorite pizza and beer without a guilty conscience. Whatever the reason, they’re always out there, and they say that summer is the perfect time for fresh blood to join them. There are plenty of races in and around Springfield throughout the next few months, giving newbies the perfect opportunity to meet people, have fun, or meet fitness goals. For runners ready to test their limits, the first local race of the summer is the Passavant-Powerade 5K and 10K, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 31, in Jacksonville. The 5K (3.1 miles) and the 10K (6.2 miles) are the city’s oldest competitive races. Each gives runners a chance to tour Jacksonville’s residential areas in an easy run on a mainly flat course. Many Springfieldians are interested in helping a cause, and several summer walks and runs are available for people who want to give and get fit at the same time. The Memorial Regional Burn Center will host its second annual 5K Run and Walk at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 7, in Washington Park. The center’s first event raised $6,200, and the staff hopes that even more people will sign up and contribute this year. The registration fee is $25. Another worthy cause is the Bob Goldman Scholastic Challenge, a 5K scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Saturday, June 21, at Center Park near Lake Springfield. Casual runners and sports fans enjoy getting involved with this race because all of the race fees ($18 per person) go to high-school running programs designated by the participants. As always, there are two races associated with the Illinois State Fair. The first is the Carlberg Design Parade Run, a two-mile trek through the Illinois State Fairgrounds. It starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7. Past participants say the conditions are usually steamy, but it’s also lots of fun to run past thousands of people waiting for the fair parade to begin. Abe’s Amble, Springfield’s largest and most popular race, is the second. The annual 10K was the first capital-city race to host more than 1,000 runners. Even though it’s always hot and hilly, organizers say it still entertains that many and more today. This year’s 31st annual 10K run will begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, near the grandstand at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. For less competitive racers, there’s also a 2K (1.25 miles) walk/run beginning at the same time and location. For more information on walking and running in Springfield and on upcoming race events, go to the Springfield Road Runners Club’s Web site, www.srrc.net.
Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.