One of my biggest fears in running races all around Illinois is driving two or three hours to a race, only to have it cancelled due to the weather. It has never happened to me but it almost happened today, as spring finally has hit central Illinois.
I ran in the Blake's Shooting Star 10K in Neoga in Cumberland County, Illinois. Neoga is a town of 1,600 but it has a lot of races, mostly 5Ks. However, I really wanted to do a 10K here, which is why running today's race was so important to me. There used to be a half marathon in Neoga but there isn't anymore. That would have been fun.
Well, it rained off and on on the drive to Neoga and there was some lightning and thunder. It started raining heavier (also off and on), as I waited for the race to start. At the 9 a.m. starting time it was pouring with a lot of lightning. We were told that a decision on whether to run the race would be made by 9:30 and, luckily, it had cleared by then. So, the race started around 9:50. For most of the race it didn't rain at all and the temperature was in the high 50s.
There was a 5K and a 10K (plus a one mile run) but several runners didn't show up because of the weather or couldn't wait for the race to start and left. It was still drizzling and looking like it could do worse at the start of the race, so some of the 10K runners opted to run only the 5K. I guess what I am saying is don't be impressed with my third place finish in the 10K because by the time all was said and done there were only 10 runners in it.
Still, I ran a pretty good race on this mostly flat course, finishing with a time of 53:25, a good time for me. At about mile 4 1/2 I overtook the second place runner but he got a second wind that I didn't have and he passed my at about mile 5 1/2.
The course went through town, then out in the country by Lake Mattoon and then back into town around Jennings Park. In all, this was a good route that allowed me to see a little of Neoga, a town I had never been to before in a county I had never been to before.
The registration area was at the elementary school, which had pretty good pre-race facilities. You had to walk a good one-third of a mile from the registation area to the race start, which was kind of a drag in the rain,especially as you waited for the race to start. I stood against the garage door under the eaves at a house to keep dry while I waited.
There were nice shirts, three water stops and more than enough volunteers for this race. The race was held as a fund-raiser for a hospice, so it is an important cause.
With this race, Cumberland County becomes the 69th Illinois county that I have run a race in, as I seek to run a race in all 102 counties. It felt good to be out running today, dodging puddles and getting drizzled on. I am happy.