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This spring in Chicago, the race is on

Today’s newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

This spring in Chicago, the race is on

The WISCH LIST

March 24, 2012

If you’ve stepped outside during the past couple of weeks, you’ve surely noticed that spring has, you know, sprung a bit early this year.

Or has that been summer?

Either way, along Chicago’s lakefront, spring doesn’t usually seem to arrive until summertime most years. So, the recent balmy temps have been a wildly pleasant exception.

Every year, however – no matter the weather – the city’s outdoor running season arrives with the official kickoff that is the Shamrock Shuffle. On Sunday morning, the Shuffle, which bills itself as the largest 8K in the world with as many as 36,000 participants, will begin in Grant Park.

And for the fourth straight year, I’ll be running the Shuffle, during which I’ve raced through rain, sleet and snow (I’m like a mailman), as well as heat. This year’s forecast of partly sunny and 63 degrees sounds ideal.

The Shuffle is only the beginning of Chicago’s running season, so I thought I’d tell let the fitness-minded among you know about some of the city’s other fun races coming up on the calendar.

Bunny Rock 5K and Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 7, 9 a.m.

For the second straight year, Montrose Harbor on Chicago’s North Side will play host to the Bunny Rock 5K. With Easter Sunday the next day, the race also includes an egg hunt with more than 3,000 candy-filled eggs for kids ages 2 to 8 years old to track down. A petting zoo and photos with the Easter Bunny are also on tap.

As for the race itself, it winds along the lakefront while some of the Windy City’s talented ’80s rock cover bands belt out tunes (hence, the Bunny “Rock”). All participants will also receive bunny ears, sunglasses and a custom Bunny Rock Dri-FIT T-shirt.

For more information, visit bunnyrock5K.com.

Race to Wrigley 5K Run
Saturday, April 14, 8 a.m.

A little over a week after the Chicago Cubs start the 2012 baseball season (Opening Day: April 5), runners can help break in the ballpark with the Race to Wrigley 5K.

The seventh annual race, which benefits Chicago Cubs Charities, is a fun jaunt that begins at the corner of Clark & Addison with Ernie Banks singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” After weaving through the Wrigleyville neighborhood, the race enters the Wrigley Field ground-level concourse before exiting at the finish line beneath the ballpark’s famed marquee.
For more information, visit chicagoevents.com.

Cinco de Miler
Sunday, May 6, 9 a.m.

Billing itself as Chicago’s only five-mile race – an 8K is actually 4.97 miles – the 2nd annual Cinco de Miler returns Montrose Harbor this May.

This festive event, featuring a Mexican theme built around the “Cinco de Mayo” holiday, includes Mariachi bands along the course’s path. The post-race party is quite a fiesta with piñatas, live music and dancing, as well as an array of breakfast burritos, churros and nacho chips.

The race’s top three male and female overall finishers will also receive an official Cinco de Miler sombrero. Olé!
For more information, visit cincodemiler.com.

Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10-Miler
Saturday, May 26, 7 a.m.

Baseball fans get a chance to run through the home of the Cubs during the Race to Wrigley 5K. Football fans, meanwhile, can hustle through the home of the Bears during the Soldier Field 10-Miler.

Beginning with a starting point outside Soldier Field, the race winds along Chicago’s scenic lakefront path before returning to the stadium, where runners emerge through the Bears players’ entrance onto the field and finish at the 50-yard line.
Which is the same place the Bears’ offense often seems to finish at, too.

For more information, visit soldierfield10.com.