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Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:01 am

Let’s go to the races

Sign up for one of these events, then train for it. If you enter, you’re a winner.

Kids race in the Sizzling Mile, a one-mile race around the Sacred Heart-Griffin track in Springfield.
Photo courtesy of HardyBreed.com.


When life gets busy, staying fit often takes a back seat. But there’s an easy way to stay committed to your workout: sign up for a race.

Simply wanting to be in shape will only get you so far, but once you’ve paid the entrance fee for a race, training becomes a matter of getting your money’s worth. That’s a powerful motivator, even when you’d rather be stuffing your face with pizza. It amounts to setting a goal and giving yourself a tangible reason to meet it.

Springfield’s race schedule is packed this summer, offering plenty of potential goals you can set to keep yourself motivated. Many of the races are held for charity, so your sweat can help out a variety of causes. Here’s a guide to what’s happening when.

The summer race season starts with a pair of races on May 24. Between these two races, there’s something for everyone, including those among us who haven’t even run since grade school.  

First up is the Capital City Biathlon, which features a 5k (3.1 miles) run and 15-mile bike ride around Lake Springfield. The race started during the 1980s around the airport but eventually died out until it was resurrected about eight years ago. The biathlon starts at 7:30 a.m. on May 24 at the Lake Springfield Beach House. For more information, visit www.capitalcitybiathlon.com.

A cyclist rounds a corner during the 2013 Abe’s Mini Triathlon and Pioneer Sprint Triathlon in Petersburg.
Photo courtesy of HardyBreed.com.
Just after the biathlon starts, runners and walkers will be lining up for the Brian McMillen Memorial Run/Walk. The race began as a tribute to Brian McMillen, an Air Force veteran and Illinois State Police trooper who was killed in the line of duty in 2007. Featuring a 10k run, 5k run and one-mile walk, this race offers distances that accommodate everyone from the seasoned runner to the couch potato. It starts at 8 a.m. on May 24 at Lincoln Land Community College, 5250 Shepherd Rd. For more information, visit www.getmeregistered.com/BMcMVeterans5k.

Once you’ve recovered from those races, get ready for the Heart and Sole Run for Orphans 5k, which takes place a couple of weeks later on June 7. In His Hands Orphan Outreach, based in Rochester, holds the race as a fundraiser to build a new orphanage in Haiti, where many of the group’s efforts are concentrated. Participants are asked to collect pledges before the race. Now in its fourth year, the race starts at 8 a.m. on June 7 in Rochester Community Park. For more information, visit www.bit.ly/ihh5k.

Another race with a social conscience is planned for the same day. This is the first year for the SOHO 10k, which is part of the larger Springfield SOHO Music Festival. A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be split among 10 Springfield nonprofits like the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery, the Phoenix Center, Kumler Outreach Ministries and the genHkids Coalition. Last year, the festival raised $15,000 for charity, and that was without the 10k race. The race itself runs from Springfield’s Stuart Park to Centennial Park along the Sangamon Valley Trail. It starts at 10 a.m. on June 7 in Stuart Park. For more information, visit www.springfieldsoho.org/soho-10k.html.

The well-rounded athlete will find a challenge in the June 14 Stovepipe Sprint Triathlon, held by Tri-Harder Promotions in historic Petersburg and Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site. The Stovepipe Tri is a 500-yard swim in a private lake, followed by a 13-mile bike ride and 5k run.

The Railsplitter Triathlon is the big brother of the Stovepipe Tri. It’s held at the same time and place as the shorter Stovepipe, offering longer distances and more of a challenge. The Olympic-distance Railsplitter begins with a 9/10-mile swim, then a 24.8-mile bike ride and a 10k run. The Railsplitter starts at 7:30 a.m. on June 14, with the Stovepipe starting at 8 a.m. the same day. For more information on both races, visit www.triharderpromotions.com.

If you’re not quite ready for a triathlon, try the Bob Goldman Scholastic Challenge 5k. Held on a nice, flat course, the race raises money for high school running programs. It also offers races for children, with the Tiny Tyke Trot 100 yard dash and the Kid’s Challenge Quarter Mile Run. The event starts at 7:30 a.m. on June 14 at the beach house on Lake Springfield. For more information, visit www.sc5k.com.

Sports retailer Scheels really got involved in the local race scene when they opened in 2011, and this year, they’re hosting the Scheels 5k to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Illinois Capital Region. In keeping with the mentorship focus of the charity, this race offers a discount when an adult and child sign up together.  The race starts at 7:30 a.m. on June 28 at Scheels, 3801 S. MacArthur Blvd. For more information, visit www.scheelscommunity.com/events.

Cyclists pedal to the finish during the 2013 Abe’s Mini Triathlon and Pioneer Sprint in Petersburg.
Photo courtesy of HardyBreed.com.
Sorry guys, the Women’s Distance Festival is for ladies only. The two-mile race, now in its 35th year, is held in beautiful Washington Park. The race also features a shorter Kids Fun Run for girls and boys ages 2 through 10. The event is organized by the Springfield Road Runners Club and benefits Ronald McDonald House. The main race starts at 8 a.m. on July 12 in Washington Park. For more information, visit http://womensdistance.srrc.net.

The Run United 5k is another chance to give back with your sweat. Hosted by Springfield manufacturer Bunn, the race benefits the United Way of Central Illinois. In addition to the 5k, there’s a kids’ fun run, as well. The main race starts at 8 a.m. on July 19 in Washington Park. For more information, visit www.bunn.com/run_united.

Also July 19, the genHkids Coalition and the Springfield Triathlon Club are teaming up with the Kohl’s Kids ’n Control Triathlons. The event features a mini-triathlon for kids ages 5-6, consisting of a 50-meter swim in the Nelson Center Pool, a 0.6-mile bike ride, then a ¼-mile run. For the bigger kids agest 6-13, there’s a longer tri with a 100-meter swim, 1.25-mile ride and ½-mile run. The fun starts at 9 a.m. on July 19 in Springfield’s Lincoln Park, 1601 N. Fifth St. For more information, visit www.springfieldtriclub.com/kidstri.

Light up your afterburners for the Sizzling Mile, an annual fast-paced race around the Sacred Heart-Griffin Track with some of Springfield’s quickest runners. The “sizzling” part of the name refers both to the summer heat and the ridiculously fast mile times. Even if you’re not quite as fast as the current 4:32 record, it’s a lighthearted race, and it doesn’t take much training to run a mile. The race starts at 6 p.m. on July 23 at Sacred Heart-Griffin Track, 1625 W. Washington St. For more information, visit www.sizzlingmile.com.

Grownups, if you missed the first round of triathlons for adults in June, here’s your chance to try a tri. The Stoneman Sprint Triathlon is a 500-yard swim, a 12-mile bike, and a 3.1-mile run. There’s also the Iron Abe Olympic Triathlon, a 9/10-mile swim, followed by a 24.8-mile ride, and a 6.1-mile run. And most challenging is the Route 66 Half Iron Triathlon, a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and a 13.1-mile run. The first of the three races starts at 7 a.m. on July 26 at the Lake Springfield beach house. For more information, visit www.triharderpromotions.com.

The Illinois State Fair wraps up the summer race season with two races that bookend the fair. First is the two-mile Scheels Illinois State Fair Parade Run on Aug. 7, which marks the start of the fair. The final day of the fair features the Abe’s Amble 10k race on August 17. For more information on the Parade Run, visit www.srrc.net/201-srrc-points-races/parade-run. For more information on Abe’s Amble, visit www.training.srrc.net/abes-army.

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.

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