Monday, September 25, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Wild Wild Wildnerness


The Wild Wild Wilderness is a 7.45 mile single-loop trail race presented by the Kennekuk Road Runners, a central/southern Illinois running club. Or as some of their shirts say - "A drinking club with a running problem.".

However, don't let the silliness of the shirts fool you - these guys and gals run some very tough races.  8-Hour Endurance Events and Trail races with over 300 feet of elevation change.  The WWW is one of those races.  This is a 7.45 single loop 100% trail race, covering all sorts of terrain.

There are open fields, double-wide grass paths, double wide gravel paths, double wide rocky paths, single wide dirt paths, single wide root-filled paths, single wide root-and-rock paths, creek crossings, sudden surprise downhills, steep downhills, steep up hills, 1.5 feet wide paths, and steep ravines if leaving the path. 

Seriously, this is THE trail race for people who love trail racing.  It has sections where the runners have to watch their feet the entire time to avoid roots and rocks, stepping forward but also to the left and the right and half stride and extended stride and all sorts of stride variations.  There are 2 hills that are so steep, that the roots almost act as ladder rungs - in the dry one can climb with feet alone, but if muddy, no way, it's ladder climbing time using the roots and trees.  There is one spot with rolling hills and at the crest of the last hill is a surprise steep downhill that requires more effort and concentration than an uphill.  There is a creek crossing with banks of 80 degree inclines/declines.  Pretty much have to almost jump at some point to avoid climbing.  There is a sudden hairpin at the end of a long downhill - right at the lake, and if you don't make that hairpin, you'll be in the lake.  There are areas where the path is, at best, 1.5 feet wide, and one side of the path is a steep ravine.  This might sound intimidating or scary - but this is exactly what trail runners live for - this is the ultimate course.

Now, at the start it's wide open grass - like 30 people wide - and then a brief (like 25 yards) or asphalt, but that's it - there is nothing easy after that.  It narrows down to a 2-wide and then a 1-wide pretty quickly.  Runners must keep up the pace as there is no way to get out of the way for quite some time.  But there are places where it does open up and allow for passing.  This is a thinking-runners event too - time the passes, pace slow in bottlenecks, and race hard in other areas. There are areas of large flat open fields, which, if not hot and sunny are ideal places to pick up speed and make passes.  However, when hot and sunny, these feel like the desert scenes in old movies.

80% of this race is in the woods and there is no "sure footing" during that time.   Even some of the wide paths are riddled with fallen black walnuts.  But those climbs, they are literally climbs, it's almost like going up a ladder, literally.  And there is one final steep climb less than a 1/4 mile from the finish, just when you think you're done!

And all of this is what makes THE MOST AWESOME TRAIL COURSE!!!!  All of these things are not negatives - these are all positives.  This is like running through a trail in a horror film or Rambo film - this is what trail running is all about!!!

Now, in addition, there are water stations, and one of them even serves Apple Pie Shots - I kid you not!!

And the end, in true Kennekuk Road Runner style, there is a beer wagon, with kegs and kegs of at least 3 different beers on tap - and there is food, lots of food.  And there is the excellent camaraderie that exists at KRR events, where everybody is having fun and being funny.

A most excellent race and highly recommended for anybody who enjoys trail running.  THIS is what trail running is all about.  It's a tough course - and that's why it's a great course!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Featured Live Music Artist of the Week - Pepperland Rockestra


The name sounds large and grand - and well, it fits.  The band is large and grand.  Pepperland Rockestra consists of Keyboards, Drums, Bass Guitar, Guitars, Viola, Violin, Cello, a 7-string viola, and an entire horn section.  This is like "Wall of Sound" stuff that would make The Wrecking Crew and Phil Spector proud!

For those not familiar with The Beatles, this is a Beatles and Beatles-Solo cover band.  Pepperland coming from Yellow Submarine and Rockestra from Paul McCartney.  But it's not just a clever combination of song titles.  (Yes, both are actually song titles)  The band takes the stage dressed in late 1960s style attire, colorful, flowery, and imaginative - like Pepperland the place.  Though they obviously aren't cartoonish, thing of the attire as something from Yellow Submarine, if it were a live action band today.  Rockestra, well, with horns, strings, and a rock & roll band - that IS a Rockestra if there ever was one!

The band takes the "big sound" songs of the Beatles or Beatles solo and recreates them in full orchestral fashion - and they do it very well.  It's like listening to the recording - but watching it live and hearing it in real-time.  They also take some of the less "big sound" songs and recreate them as if they were originally "big sounding".  And they also do this very well!  Playing well known songs with a new flare.  (or is it flair, it's not Ric Flair, though I think he'd love the bigness of this sound - woooo - sorry I digress)

Not that The Beatles weren't cultured, but this full orchestral band, brings a new element of culture to what could have been "just another Beatles band".  Of course, as you can tell, they most certainly are NOT "just another Beatles band".

They are fun to watch on stage, as every single band member, whether it's the lead vocalist, the drummer, the guitarists, the string section, or the horn section, every single band member really gets into the music.  They are having fun - and it shows - and that's what music is about.  Didn't Mr. Holland say, "that's why it's called PLAYING music" because it's supposed to be fun.   And this band is having fun - and so is everybody watching them.

Highly Highly talented musicians, all combined on one stage (or on the stage, in front of the stage, and next to the stage).  This band is definitely one of the premier "Beatles bands", without a doubt.




Monday, September 18, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Buffalo Stampede 10k


No, don't worry, it's not like the running of the bulls, there are no buffaloes stampeding towards any runners.  It does take place in Buffalo Grove IL, though.  The race is part of the larger Buffalo Grove Days Festival, which includes live music and a carnival.  The start/finish line is very close to the carnival, so for those runners looking for a pre-race warmup, there is a nice scenic stroll through the carnival/event grounds - sort of nostalgic.

There is also a 5k event, but this focuses on the 10k.  The events have staggered start times, with the 10k going out first.  This actually creates a unique situation the course.  At around mile 5, the 10k route mergers with the 5k route.  The 5k runners are on their 2 mile mark.  So, there are a bunch of fresh fast runners, mixing in with slower not-so-fresh runners, all at the point of a walking/running path in the park.  It makes for some unique situations as runners from both events need to adjust to the faster or slower traffic.  I think it adds a unique nuance to the entire event.  For some, those fresh runners actually add a boost of energy to those that were running out of energy.  Also, many of the fresh runners offer words of encouragement to those finishing the 10k, which is always a plus.

This 10k features roads, paved walking/jogging paths, and crushed gravel paths.  The race is a combination trail race and road race.  The race starts on the streets, then moves onto the crushed gravel paths in a park.  At this point of the race, the course becomes hilly with a couple of semi-large uphills (and downhills).  The crushed gravel portion is an out-and-back, so runners get to receive encouragement from runners heading the other way - this is always one of the coolest things about running.  The race then returns to the streets and then to the local park, where it transitions to a paved walking/jogging path, which goes past playgrounds, ballfields, and a pool.  The course then finishes with a long straight-away final stretch to the finish line.  Almost feels like that scene from Vacation with everybody running towards that giant sign, that never seems to get closer.

Only as a guesstimate, the 10k is probably 50% trail and 50% road.  This makes for a perfect course for those who enjoy both styles of running.

The raceday packet pickup/registration is probably the most organized around.  There are signs everywhere, spacious booths, plenty of volunteers.  Raceday registration and/or packet pickup is extremely fast and easy.

And enjoyable course, with a little something for everybody.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Featured Live Music Artist of the Week - Mister Mustard


Beatles fans will recognize the name of the band and immediately think it will be a Beatles cover band, and, well, they would be correct.  Mister Mustard is a side project of the original 3 members of the HandGrenades.  One of those members now plays in The Rockingbirds, which we have featured here before, and the other two remain in the HandGrenades.

The HandGrenades are well known in the music scene not just for their musical chops and songwriting talents, but also for spot-on perfect harmonies.

So, one would expect Mister Mustard to also have spot-on perfect harmonies - correct?  Yep - and that would be a correct expectation - and they far exceed that expectation on stage.  The band consists of 2 guitars, 1 bass, and 1 drum - the standard rock combo.  All three guitarists take tuns on lead vocals of various Beatles songs from the early years to the final years - and all three guitarists combine for harmonies throughout the songs.  And the do it well, very well.

I was so focused on the music and having a good time, I didn't keep track of a set list, but they did play once on Saturday and once on Sunday on the Apple Jam Stage at Chicago's Fest For Beatles Fans.  And they packed the atrium both times.  Honestly, it almost felt like a Beatles concert with girls screaming (seriously) during some songs.  And, well, everybody screaming when they pulled off the rising vocals in "I've Got A Feeling".  If you know the song, you know the part I'm talking about.  And of course, with those vocals, the music is also rising.  Talk about nailing a song spot-on perfect.  Literally, the crowd, every person in the crowd, screamed and whistled and clapped at that point - literally everybody.

Their on stage presence is relaxed and fun, which is not surprising given that is exactly how one would describe the HandGrenades and Rockingbirds.  But, at the same time, as one young lady sitting behind me said, they "even sort of act like The Beatles up there, having fun and looking at the crowd".  And I think she was right.

Another quote from an older gentleman sitting near me was, "I like how they keeping cracking wise between songs".  And again, he was right.  From the time they got on stage until the time they got off stage, they had funny little dialogues between songs, totally relaxed and unforced fun.

They do play out on occasion, and hopefully those occasions will increase.  One thing is certain, if you ever need the perfect Beatles cover band - Mister Mustard is the call you should make.




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Local Live Music - Autumn Edition


This is only a guide - always check with the venue or the band to confirm.  This is live music - things can definitely change.


9/22 - Acoustiholics - Countryside Saloon, Countryside, IL
9/22 - Kashmir - Fall Fest, Elmwood Park, IL
9/22 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/23 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/23 - Witchcross/Wretch/Blackwater/Spyderbone/Astral Mass - Live Wire Lounge, Chicago, IL
9/23 - The Neverly Brothers - Konow's Corn Maze, Homer Glen, IL (day)
9/23 - The Neverly Brothers - Fall Fest, Elmwood Park, IL (night)
9/23 - Sniper - 3 Monkeys, South Chicago Heights, IL
9/23 - JakTripper - Bannerman's, Bartlett, IL
9/23 - Low Voltage - Metal Shed, River Falls, WI
9/23 - Kashmir - Broken Oar, Port Barrington, IL
9/23 - Mortals 2 - Big Twin Tavern, Hartford, MI
9/23 - Johnny Burnett Band - Jimmy's Charhouse, Elk Grove Village, IL
9/24 - Little Johnny & The HouseRockers - New Corner Bar & Grill, Lansing, IL
9/24 - The Neverly Brothers - Oktoberfest, Manteno, IL
9/27 - Big Boppers - Melody Mart Adult Jam Session, Homewood, IL
9/28 - Little Johnny & The HouseRockers - Pick-Ups, Chicago Heights, IL
9/29 - Epic - Ballydoyle Irish Pub, Downers Grove, IL
9/29 - Low Voltage - Dugout Bar, Mahtomedi, MN
9/29 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/30 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/30 - Little Johnny & The HouseRockers - Fire Pit Bar & Grill, Peotone, IL
9/30 - Bo Blider - Stray Bar, Frankfort, IL
9/30 - Kashmir - The District, Rockford, IL
10/6 - Kashmir - Loaded Buffalo, Mundelein, IL
10/6 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/7 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/7 - High Anxiety - The Office, Kankakee, IL
10/7 - HandGrenades - Ant Hall at Fallout Fest V, Hamtramck, MI
10/7 - Kashmir - Tailgaters, Bolingbrook, IL
10/10 - Krewella - Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
10/13 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/14 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/14 - High Anxiety - On The Rox, Kankakee, IL
10/14 - Kashmir - Fitz's Spare Keys, Elmhurst, IL
10/20 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/21 - Celtic Aire - 115 Bourbon, Merrionette Park, IL
10/21 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/21 - The Ides Of March - Watseka Theatre/Iroquois Performing Arts Center, Watseka, IL
10/21 - Kashmir - Cheers, Midlothian, IL
10/25 - Big Boppers - Melody Mart Adult Jam Session, Homewood, IL
10/27 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/28 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
10/28 - Kashmir - 210 Live, Highwood, IL
11/3 - Kashmir - Buddy & Pal's, Schererville, IN
11/3 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/4 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/4 - Wild Dogs - Brass Monkey Bar, Wyandotte, MI
11/10 - HandGrenades - Mac's Bar, Lansing, MI
11/10 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/11 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/17 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/18 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/18 - Cornerstones of Rock - Coronado Theatre, Rockford, IL
11/22 - Kashmir - Q Sports Bar & Grill, Darien, IL
11/24 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
11/25 - Sopro's Annual Thanksgiving All-Star Blues Revue - Cheers, Midlothian, IL
11/25 - Cornerstones of Rock - Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL
11/29 - Big Boppers - Melody Mart Adult Jam Session, Homewood, IL
12/1 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/2 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/8 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/9 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/9 - Kashmir - Buddy & Pal's, Crown Point, IN
12/15 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/16 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/16 - The Ides Of March - Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL
12/22 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/23 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
12/27 - Big Boppers - Melody Mart Adult Jam Session, Homewood, IL
12/29 - Kashmir - The Forge, Joliet, IL
12/31 - Kashmir - Ballydoyle's, Downers Grove, IL
1/20 - Jim Peterik's World Stage - Wentz Hall at North Central College, Naperville, IL
3/9 - 2nd Annual AshleyCan Pediatric Cancer Foundation Jam Night - Glass Tap, Steger, IL


Monday, September 11, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Flossmoor 5k


The Flossmoor 5K takes place at Leavitt Park in, you guessed it, Flossmoor, IL.  It is the 3rd, and final, race in the H-F Summer Circuit, presented by the H-F Racquet & Fitness Club.  The races are held in May, July, and September.  The other two have been featured this past year on our blog.

This race is the only race of the three that actual does not run "in" a park at all.  It starts at a park, and the pre-race/post-race tent is in the park, but the race is 100% on the streets of Flossmoor.  The park itself is picturesque and even contains a sculpture garden.

The race heads south from the park across Flossmoor Road and winds through a neighborhood there before crossing back over Flossmoor Road to wind through more neighborhood streets.  The second half of the race contains some windy streets and some elevation, but nothing severe.  The course itself finishes the final 1/4 mile downhill - not a steep downhill - but noticeable, which is great for those who love the finish line kick.

The entire race is run on heavily shaded streets as these are well established neighborhoods with ancient trees lining the streets the entire way.  It was a cool September day, but even if it wasn't cool - the course would have been primarily shaded.

Being a local circuit, it creates an opportunity to see many of the same people and to develop friendships and running partners along the way.  Also helps runners with a friendly rivalry between runners of similar speeds.  In addition, being a neighborhood series, it is more relaxed and there is always a large crowd of people cheering on the runners (and walkers) as they finish the race.

In addition, there are awards for the fastest participants across all three races - adding to the challenge for those fast runners.  (Each individual race also had age-group awards.)

Great low-key friendly series - perfect for established runners and those new to running - and for walkers as well.  Courses are all stroller friendly as well.




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Featured Artist of the Week - Ron Fitzgerald


So, this week's "artist" is not a musician (well, he might be and I don't know) and he's not a painter, but he is an artist.  He is an Illusionist - and is the driving force behind Ron Fitzgerald's Dark Realm.

I've seen his show twice now, one time on a stage, and one time as part of an outdoor afterparty sponsored by Zombie Army Productions, both as part of Flashback Weekend HorrorCon - Chicago.  (as a side note, back in 2016 we did a Featured Artist of the Week about Flashback Weekend, you can use our search function to find that)

Anyhow, back to Ron Fitzgerald.  This guy immediately makes an impact, and he definitely makes an interest.  He has a "dark" look to him from the minute you see him, including his pale eyes, which almost look grey.  He is clad in exactly the outfit you'd expect a dark illusionist to be clad in - long dark jacket and supernatural surreal jewelry.  But, that's all just superficial, right?  What really matters is the show.  And, he can put on a show - whether it's on a stage or outdoors in a parking lot surrounded by people who have been drinking free beer (compliments of Zombie Army) for hours.

Certainly don't want to delve into spoilers here, because spoilers would ruin the show - right?  But, I can say it's a great mix of well-known illusions (sawing a woman in half), to new and dark illusions, to dark humor, to sexual innuendo (some not so subtle).  That combination equates to 100% entertainment.  The illusions will leave even front-row skeptics going "how DID he do that?"  But even if the viewer is a non-believer in magic and illusions, it's still entertaining as Fitzgerald throws in humor and dark humor at just the right times - and throws in a little innuendo here and there as well - all at the expense of his fun-loving female assistants.  And let's not take anything away from the assistants - as everybody knows, a "magic" act is only as good as the assistants.  The combination on Mr. Fitzgerald and his 2 (or 3) assistants makes for a well oiled machine.  The show moves along without a hitch and there is no question that Mr. Fitzgerald is not only a master of illusions, but also a true professional who understands that it's all about the show - it's all about entertaining (and surprising and shocking) the audience.

The show never feels fake, it never feels phony, and it never feels cheesy.  The entire show is engaging from start to finish and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats (unless they are standing in a parking lot).  Even during the free-drink show, as we were calling it, the show was so engaging, few people walked away to get refills - very few.

Whether he is able to have all the effects that a stage show provides - or whether he is doing it the old snake-handler way in a parking lot in the dark - the show is engaging, funny, dark, and shocking!  Everything one would want from an illusionist from the Dark Realm.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - AshleyCan Half/Relay/10k/5k/Kids Run


The 6th Annual AshleyCan Pediatric Cancer Foundation race is a combination of many many races.


  • Half Marathon
  • Half Marathon/Relay 
  • 10k
  • 5k
  • Family 1 Mile Fun Run
All of these are conducted on the rolling hills on the streets of Bourbonnais, IL.  There are stretches of flat and fast course, but it is not a flat course.  People have PR'd on the course, but it's not easy.  It is perfect for beginners wanting to challenge themselves and perfect for long-time runners looking to take on the challenges.  One thing to remember, especially when it gets challenging, is that the money raised is to fight Childhood Cancer, a terrible disease that is far more challenging than the most challenging hill.  In past years, runners have used that as their inspiration and find themselves overcoming the hills and even setting a PR or two.

But MOST IMPORTANTLY, 100% of the money raised - 100% - is used to fight childhood cancer.  The majority of the money goes to St. Jude's Childrens Hospital, but some of the money is also used to assist families impacted by this terrible disease.  Every single person involved with the Foundation and with the races is an unpaid volunteer.

The founder of AshleyCan was Ashley Montgomery, a young lady that was impacted 4 times with childhood cancer.  She was strong, she was a fighter, and she believed in finding a cure, even to the point of using experimental cures as a way to help the medical industry learn.  Sadly, Ashley passed away in 2017 during her final battle with the terrible disease.  And that's what makes these events so important - we must not let Ashley's fight be the end of the fight - we must continue to raise money to find a cure!  This is the event where I first met Ashley and the Montgomery family, her courage and strength was so moving that I have been a volunteer at nearly every event (running and non-running) since that day.  I've even run in a couple of the events when there were enough volunteers.

So, aside from the cause, this is a challenging, yet fun, course - and there is something for everybody.  Half Marathon, be part of a relay team and run the Half Relay, a 10k, a 5k, and even a family (not just kids) 1-miler.  Child Daycare is also provided, free of charge!!!



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Featured Live Music Artist of the Week - Tuesday Knight


So, to be honest, the "live" part of this really only applies to one song, but even music from CDs was live - live in the studio - so this all counts.

Fair warning - this is one of my "long-winded" reviews, but please indulge me - it all ties together.

To horror fans, Tuesday Knight is known for a couple of things - 1) Her role as Kristen in Nightmare On Elm Street 4 (and also playing herself in New Nightmare) and 2) Singing the theme song, "Nightmare" for Nightmare on Elm Street 4.

However, Tuesday has many more film credits than just the Nightmare franchise, and she also has many many more songs than just "Nightmare". And, I'll be the first to admit it - I had no idea about the song part. I knew she sang the theme, but really that is all I knew about her music career.

It just so happened that one of the features of the 2017 Flashback Weekend HorrorCon was that Tuesday would sing "Nightmare" live just before the outdoor screening of Nightmare 4. How freaking cool is that?!?!?!

So, earlier that same day, I went to her booth on the convention floor to get a selfie and autograph, and I commented about how cool it's going to be seeing her sing "Nightmare" live. She was super nice, very friendly, and very genuine. After a few minutes of talking, her husband asked if I knew more about her music. I sheepishly said "Sorry, I really don't". So, we talked a bit about it, and she happened to have a pre-release of her newest CD, "Uncovered" along with the EP CD "Nightmare", which had "Nightmare" (duh), a few different mixes of "Nightmare" and some other songs. I decided to purchase the pre-release CD - why not, what a cool chance to get something before the public - I love music, Tuesday seemed very nice - figured I couldn't lose. Thinking I had brought my portable CD player with me, I said that I would listen to it that day.

Fast forward to that evening. The cast of Nightmare 4, including Mrs. Knight and Robert Englund, did a brief live intro to the movie - and then the cast left the makeshift stage - and the "Nightmare" music began. Tuesday Knight, standing front and center to an audience that was glued on her - like convention fans will be. She started singing and, immediately, right out of the box was knocking it out of the park. She was hitting the high notes, she was grooving, she was walking back and forth across the stage - hitting every lyric exactly as we all remembered it from the movie. No signs of nerves whatsoever (I would imagine it would be a little nerve wracking performing in front of this audience that memorizes every word to movies they love) and she rocked it for the entire length of the song - making the outdoor gathering feel like a large scale concert. She finished the song to a standing ovation!

Fast forward again, the next day, I headed back to her table and complimented her on the performance - and immediately bought the other 2 CDs that I had not bought the day before. Sold on the strength of her live performance - and her voice. The 3 CDs are titled "Faith", "Nightmare" and "Uncovered".

Sadly, when I got back to my room that first night, turns out that I did NOT bring my portable CD player - so when she asked me what I thought about the CD, I had to admit my failure. But when I got home I transferred them all to my iPod and listened to them on my way to the Fest For Beatles Fans convention the next weekend. And, I was SO BLOWN AWAY by her sound, that her CDs became my in-room music for the entire Beatles event - and that says a lot, because usually, it's Beatles music.

Her sound across the CDs varies from not only CD to CD but from track to track. And variety is a good thing always. I'm not a fan of categorizing artists, but to help explain her music - it's like Rock & Roll, Pop, Groove/Dance, and "New" Country all rolled together. Each song has an element of those items, some songs are little more of one than the other. Her sound is uniquely Tuesday Knight, which is why I don't like to compare her to other singers, because it does a disservice to her own style - but I kinda see it as a great mixture of Blondie, Pat Benatar, Heart, and Shania Twain. All of the songs are excellent - including the novelty mixes of "Nightmare" - and she even throws in a cover song here and there, with her own very unique interpretation on them.

It's hard to pick a "favorite" song, because they are all good - but of course "Nightmare" is in the running - and I have to admit - I enjoy the attitude in "Sorry Bout That" - makes me smile each time I listen to it.

If you like music, if you like to expand your collection, and if you like the "Nightmare" franchise - I'd suggest picking up some Tuesday Knight CDs.

By the way, even more important than all of my opinions about her music - she is really a class act. One of the nicest people I've ever met at any convention. Genuine and friendly. Glad I had a chance to meet her and to see her perform!!


Monday, August 28, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Apollo 5k


This was the 1st race in the H-F Summer Circuit.  We have already blogged about the 2nd race, which was the Run For Freedom 5k on July 4th.  The H-F Summer Circuit consists of 3 races, one in May (this one), one in July (the Freedom 5k), and one in September.  Each race takes place at a different park in either Homewood or Flossmoor, in the Chicago Southland.  These are great "neighborhood races", very informal, taking place in parks (or at least starting/ending in parks), and low-key.

This one, named Apollo 5k, takes place at Apollo Park, a little park just hidden off of a main 4-way busy road.  Tucked away behind some houses and trees, and far enough from the major road to not even hear any traffic.

This year's shirts of course played off the Apollo name and feature a space capsule logo.

The race begins on the trails of Apollo Park and heads east very briefly before hairpinning back west, it then proceeds onto the streets of Homewood.  95% of the race takes place on these neighborhood side streets, without crossing any major roads.  The course is relatively flat, but has some surprising, yet gradual inclines - the kind that aren't noticeable until noticed.  Of course, each incline has a decline, so it all balances out.

The race ends as it heads back into the park from a corner completely opposite of the start.  It provides for exciting spectator views of runners returning to the park off in a distance and heading away from the crowd.  The runners then make a 90 degree turn and a long stretch heading directly towards the spectators, then with less than a block to go, one more 90 degree turn to the finish line.  For the "finish-line" kickers, this provides a long kick, as most will go into the finishing kick upon entering the park.  Makes for exciting viewing as people pass each other down these long flat paths.  Spectators can watch this entire finale, due to no tree obstruction in the park.

This race, as well as the entire circuit, is also open to walkers, joggers, woggers, and runners.  The idea is to get the community out to the parks in the beautiful weather and get some exercise (and socializing) in before the day kicks into gear.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Featured Live Music Artist of the Week - The Neverly Brothers


The Neverly Brothers : A Rock & Roll Tribute from Elvis to the Beatles.

No, that's not a great headline I thought up, that's the promo tag line for the 3-piece band, based in Chiagoland, called The Neverly Brothers.  And well, it's a perfect description, but not a complete description.

The Neverly Brothers is more like a musical history lesson - or as they called it - a "Magical History Tour".  I was fortunate enough to see their show at Steger's First Responders Community Event.  The band was the part of the Day 1 festivities, which also included a parade, bouncy-houses, touch-a-trunk, dunk tank, a DJ, and fireworks.

The band's tagline basically explains the musical genre - but the band doesn't just play music or cover music for that era, they literally transport one back in time.  The band itself consists of just 3 band members, and the 3 basic instruments of that time, instruments that gave that era of music its own never-since-duplicated sound.  A bass violin (the band taught us that was the correct term), many know it as the upright bass, standup bass, "the doghouse", and "that giant bass".  A 6-string acoustic guitar.  And, a simple drum kit - one bass drum and one tom, no cymbal.  Basic, but to the point - and pure - just like the sound of that era.  Those three instruments, when played properly can sound like an orchestra.  Less is more, as they say.  The band played everything from Elvis to The Beatles, to Johnny Cash, to Rolling Stones, to The Kinks, to the Big Bopper, and so many bands in between.

The show focused on Early American Rock & Roll, starting at Sun Records, and progressed through the British Invasion, led by The Beatles and ending with the Stones.  The show even included a costume change to go with the different eras.

But, really, a Neverly Brothers show is so much more than the songs and the attire.  It truly is a Magical History Tour.  Throughout the evening, from the opening to the encore, the band transports the audience back in time through narration.  They set the stage with descriptions of venues, recording studios, and events.  Literally, one could close their eyes and be transported.  But it was even more than that - there was even history lessons about the songs or the artists or their influences or the times.  Did you know, for instance, that "Wake Up Little Susie" was so controversial in its time, that radio stations would not play it?  I didn't know that - but I do now - thanks to The Neverly Brothers.

More than a concert, this was a show, more than a show, this was a true TRIBUTE, a heartfelt recreation of an era that was the cornerstone of Rock & Roll.




Monday, August 21, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Get Your 6.6 on Route 66


A fantastic play on the phrase "Get Your Kicks on Route 66".  This is a 6.6k point-to-point race.  To explain that in non-runner terms, this is a 4.1 mile race which ends at a different location that it starts.  Now, some "circular" races end within a few blocks from where they started, that's not really considered a point-to-point.  A point-to-point is when it ends significantly far from where it started - in this case 4.1 miles farther (or 6.6k).

This is what many refer to as a "destination race".  Basically, that is a race that people travel to, not so much because of the physical attributes of the course, but more for the location of the course.  (though attributes of a course also make destination races).  The lure of this event is spending 6.6 kilometers on the Historic Route 66 - the actual Mother Road.

The race starts at Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup (and you can look up why it's spelled that way on their webpage at http://www.funksmaplesirup.com/#&panel1-1).  The race ends at the McLean, IL town square.  Participants park a couple of blocks from the FINISH line and take a shuttle to the starting line.  Shuttles begin at 6:15am and run continuously until 7:15am.  Race starts promptly at 8:00am - right in the middle of Route 66.  Right, smack dab, in the middle of the road.

Participants are treated to a scenic and leisurely starting area at Funks Grove.  There are historic buildings, sirup making tools, and an entire grove of trees - complete with a sap line running through them like a spider web.  Participants are also treated to a shot of Pure Maple Sirup prior to the race.  Yes, like in a shot glass.  Good for energy - right?  Right?  The entirety of the Funks Grove location is a nice relaxed and scenic setting to sit and talk, to collect thoughts, to stretch, to warm up, or to sight see.  Depending on how early one arrives, one can soak in as much atmosphere as they choose.

The race then heads down Route 66 - a very long, primarily flat, straightaway.  Literally, just straight for at least 3.75 of the 4.1 miles.  You can see runners way ahead and way behind - literally "you can see for miles".  Most of Historic Route 66 runs alongside Interstate 55, which adds some "cheerleaders" along the way.  Many many cars and trucks will sound their horns in encouragement for the runners, a couple of loud truck horns, or several quick car beeps.  With each one, nearly every runner waves back a "thank you wave".  Keeps the motivation up and keeps it fun, for the runners, and those enjoying the sites while traveling to who knows where.  A very cool built-in feature of the race.

At about 3.75 miles, the road curves and heads into McLean, IL.  It even goes from pavement to packed gravel (tightly packed, secure footing).  Participants run past some houses, with families and children cheering from their porches, to the finish line which is a turn later.

After the finish, participants pick up their swag bags, which includes a commemorative can holder and shot glass, plus coupons for 1 free drink (alcoholic or not) and free food in the town square.  In addition, there is the unique feature of $3.00 of credits to Arcadia - an arcade with vintage video and pinball games!!  It seemed after the awards ceremony concluded, the arcade was packed with people 40 and over, all those who grew up in video's heyday of the 80s.

In the town square there was a beer garden, food cooked on a grill, pet adoption, silent actions, a Route 66 backdrop for finisher photos, trivia contests, and a car show.  All in a perfect Route 66 small-town setting.  In, literally, the town square - a patch of grass and trees in the middle of the business district surrounded by roads.

This is a bucket-list race for any runner (or walker) who wants to experience authentic Route 66 in a unique way.




Thursday, August 17, 2017

Featured Live Music Artist of the Week - First Responder Community Event


With today's entry, we are helping to spread the word for an event occurring Saturday August 19 and Sunday August 20 in Steger, IL.

The First Responder Community Event.

This event is to honor the men and women of the First Responder Community; Fire Department/EMT, Police Department, Emergency Management Agency (EMA), and Public Works.  These are the first people on the scene serving and protecting the residents of Steger and nearby communities.  They are there for fires, accidents, general assistance, traffic control, snow removal, water main breaks, getting cats out of trees, checking for carbon monoxide or natural gas in homes, keeping water purified, illness, injury, and education - and so much more.

The event starts on Saturday, August 19 with a parade.  Everybody loves a parade.

The parade begins at 3:00pm on the west side of town, and travels down Steger Road to Hopkins and ends at the Louis Sherman Community Center.

At this point, all sorts of activities will be ready to roll - a dunk tank, water games, bean bags, and a DJ.  There will also be food and beverages available.

At 7:45pm, The Neverly Brothers- A Rock N Roll Tribute from Elvis to The Beatles - takes the stage for a free concert.

Following the concert - FIREWORKS!!!  And then a DJ in the beer tent to finish off the evening.

On Sunday, August 20, there will be a fundraiser dinner to raise money for the First Responder Departments.  Money raised will be split across the groups and used as necessary.  Reservations are now closed for this event, so the caterer has a headcount.  This dinner takes place inside the Louis Sherman Community Center.

Here is the link to the official facebook invite page - https://www.facebook.com/events/1930286787235340/




Monday, August 14, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Go Run-Warren Park


Go Run-Warren Park is one of the the 3 simultaneous Go Run events that happen almost every Saturday from Spring through Fall in Chicago.  The other two occur at Humboldt Park and Washington Park.  More information about the Go Run program can be found at the bottom of this blog entry.

There are many great things about the Go Run program, which are detailed later in this entry, but something I really enjoyed about the program this past weekend was the casual nature of it.  The race starts at 9:00, registration starts at 8:00am.   But if a participant is already registered, and has participated before, they just show up, with their bib from the previous event, and just get in line at start time.  The previous event doesn't even have to be at that particular location - just put the bib on - get in line to start - and the participant will get credit at the finish line.  No check-in whatsoever.  For first time participants, they need to check-in and get a bib.  So, for me personally, this week's run was sort of something I was doing as an intermission from a weekend long event I was attending.  And that was nice, because there was no pressure to get there early to avoid lines or to make sure I was registered and so on.  I showed up, at a time convenient for me, did some warmups, put my bib on, and got in line.  At the finish, I was recorded and included in the results.  No long lines to leave either, so I was able to just show up - participate - and leave.  Perfect!

The 5k is a two-loop race, and there is a 1-mile race which is 1 abbreviated loop.  The course is well marked, volunteers at some key turning points, and cones to indicate where not to turn.  The route leaves from the parking lot area (perfect for those showing up within minutes), and goes around the perimeter of the park.  It's all on paved paths, and some concrete sidewalk in one area.  Interestingly, the perimeter route includes running alongside a 9-hole executive golf course - and even in between the "clubhoue" and the course.  Scenic and quite.  When not near the golf course, the path goes past an open field, some baseball fields, and some open areas.  Most of the past is tree-lined.  At one point, and interesting twist, the path actually meets a regular city sidewalk, complete with people waiting at the bus stop.  At 9:00am on a Saturday, this area is still relatively empty though, and pedestrian traffic is not an issue, but it's definitely different to suddenly be on a sidewalk open to the public.  The few pedestrians that are there, are courteous, and there are no issues.  The course then goes back into the park towards the finish line.  It's a fun course and the scenery is ever changing.  According to my GPS watch, there is a total 23 foot elevation gain - so 11.5 feet per loop - but it's not even noticeable - though I do admit, there is one spot where the decline is somewhat noticeable (not steep), but one can feel the easiness of going downhill.  Well organized, relaxing, and fun.

Now, the following section is copy/pasted from an earlier blog about Go Run-Washington Park, but I believe it is important to understand the concept and reason for the Go Run events.  So, if you missed that blog entry, here it is again.

First, a little bit about "Go Run".  Go Run is a series of races, sponsored by CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association), which takes place on Saturdays from Spring through Autumn, at Chicago Parks.  The races are held each Saturday at 9:00am (with check-in beginning at 8:15am) at Washington Park, Warren Park, and Humboldt Park - at the actual parks that the neighborhoods are named after.  The three races literally occur simultaneously - each 5K run/walk (or 1 mile run/walk) kicks off at 9:00am at each park.  This goes on all Spring, Summer, and Autumn.  Pretty much rain or shine, unless the conditions are dangerous (pretty standard for running events).

What makes these events even more unique (aside from occurring every weekend and simultaneously) is that they are FREE.  Yes, 100% FREE.  CARA is a registered charitable organization and one of their methods of giving back is to encourage people to get out and run - or jog - or walk.  And to do it for 5K or 1-Mile, whichever.  These races are timed, but are non-competitive.  There are no awards for first place or for age groups.  It is stressed that people may choose to use this for a leisurely walk around these scenic parks, to jog, to begin or continue a healthy plan, or to run to try and get a fast time.  And every participant understands this and the camaraderie is amazing and healthy.  Just like most running events, participants encourage each other before - during - and after the race - regardless of time and speed.  The fact that this is non-competitive allows for shy newbies to take their first steps (pun intended) into the running event world.  Many people often are self-conscious about joining a crowd run or a competitive run - these events are the PERFECT welcome wagon for ALL levels of running and walking.  In addition, usually entering a running event costs money.  I've seen events as low as $10, but that's a rarity - most start at $30 and just go higher.  Again, another hurdle for the newer runners - or for people who WANT to run every weekend in a friendly group environment, but simply do not have the extra cash to that.

Go Run is also eco-friendly.  Results are not printed out on paper and posted at the event.  Instead they are uploaded to the Go Run webpage - usually within 60 minutes after the final participant crosses.  In addition, participants are given a bib with their assigned number written on it.  This bib can be used at EVERY Go Run event, regardless of which park or which week.  The computer system recognizes the number.  This doesn't sound like much, but the amount of paper that is saved over a 3-month season of 3 races per week adds up to a mound of paper saved!  (by the way, if a person forgets or loses their bib, they do get another one, no charge, no penalty)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Featured Artist of the Week - "The Barn"



Going a slightly different route with this entry.  Instead of a musical artist, or a visual artist, we are going to treat the concept of art in its all encompassing meaning - "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination".

"The Barn" is a movie - and the artists are the producers, directors, actors, musicians, director of photography, F/X specialists, stuntmen, and everybody else, such as the gaffer and best boy (whatever those are) - and anybody else involved.  The "artist" as a whole is Nevermore Production Films.

I'm not a movie critic, so bear with me on this one.

"The Barn" in an independent studio horror/slasher picture.  I picked up a copy at the recent Flashback Weekend HorrorCon, because they had quite the booth.  They offered it on DVD, they had a video game, they had a board game, they had an orange vinyl something (not sure if it was soundtrack of that old movie format).  Anyhow, it was clear they were serious about this venture - so I supported them.  Heck, they even have their own website dedicated to the movie - The Barn Merch Store.

The concept of the movie (no spoilers because it's printed right on the box) - "It's Halloween 1989, best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy their last Devil's Night before graduating high school.  Trouble arises when...take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside..."  (Nevermore Production Films)

I wasn't sure what to expect from an indie film, but given their booth at the convention, I figured it should be pretty good.  And it was.

I'll admit, there were some jumps in logic, or things that just didn't make sense, but it's a horror film - name one where everything makes sense.  Being a horror film, it also had a pointless gratuitous nude scene, but again, most horror/slasher films do - it's almost expected.  But, really, those are the only sorta negative aspects, and are they really negatives - or just standard horror/slasher items?

The filming is very good, the camera angles are interesting, and the lighting is perfect, considering it's almost 75% filmed in the dark outdoors.  Many films end up with these very very dimly lit and hard to see scenes - but The Barn does an excellent job of keeping the dark night feel, but still enough lighting to clearly see everything going on. 

The acting and dialogue are actually pretty strong and it all feels "real" - none of it looks like "acting" or sounds "scripted".  

As a HUGE fan of Halloween (the holiday, the legends, the myths) - I am very impressed with the storyline and the premise and the underlying theme of the movie.  VERY impressed.  The plot stays true to the mythology and ambiance of Halloween (the holiday, not the movie).  The plot is established very well in the first 5 minutes and stays consistent until the end.

And, it is a horror/slasher - which means there will be blood and gore - and there is - and plenty of it.  But, it's not gratuitous (love using that word) blood and gore, it's not "gore for the sake of gore" - it's appropriately used.  And, with that comes up the topic of Special Effects and Makeup!

FX and Makeup - SUPERB!!!  Quality makeup work, quality splatter, quality kills - some very unique ones too!  Mega props to the FX, Makeup, an Props people!!!  It's not cheesy and it's not low-budget - it looks good - and from what I can tell, it's all Practical FX, no CGI.  Which, in my opinion, makes it even better!

And, finally, let me tie this back to what this blog usually writes about - music (and running).  The soundtrack is KILLER!!!  PERFECT horror/slasher music - perfect.  And integrated very well into the scenes, especially at the Hootenanny!

If you are a horror/slasher buff - and if you are willing to give independent filmmakers a chance - this is worth your investment!!!  Check it out.
















Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Local Live Music - August and Beyond


This is only a guide - always check with the venue or the band to confirm.  This is live music - things can definitely change.

9/1 - Kashmir - Rock N Rail Street Festival, Griffith, IN
9/1 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/2 - Phylis Renee Marconi & Band - Frankfort Fest, Frankfort, IL
9/2 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL (7-10)
9/2 - Big Boppers Blues Band - Ryan's Pub, Frankfort, IL (10:30-)
9/2 - High Anxiety - Off The Vine, Momence, IL
9/3 - Kashmir - The Cottage, Crystal Lake, IL
9/4 - Pepperland Rockestra - Spring Green General Store, Spring Green, WI
9/6 - Big Boppers - Michigan Plaza, 205 N. Michigan, Chicago, IL
9/8 - Devon Zeanah/Underclass/Spirit Lake - Bada Brew, Crest Hill, IL
9/8 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/9 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/9 - The Ides Of March - Darien Park, Darien, IL
9/9 - Kashmir - Chilimania Fest, Edgerton, WI
9/9 - Sniper - Buddy & Pal's, Schererville, IN
9/9 - Krass Judgement - The Pinch, Washington, DC
9/9 - Johnny Burnett Band - Jimmy's Charhouse, Elk Grove Village, IL
9/10 - Big Boppers Blues Band - Ryan's Pub, Frankfort, IL
9/10 - Epic - Johnsburg Festival, Johnsburg, IL
9/10 - Kashmir - Bourbon & BBQ Fest, Chicago, IL
9/15 - Acoustiholics - Suzy's Bar & Grill, Yorkville, IL
9/15 - Kashmir - Basecamp Pub & Eatery, Lisle, IL
9/15 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/16 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/16 - HandGrenades - MOTR, Cincinnati, OH
9/16 - Acoustiholics - Millennium Grill, Chicago, IL
9/16 - Sniper - Hunley's Bar, Cedar Lake, IN
9/17 - Johnny Burnett Band - Capannari Ice Cream, Mount Prospect, IL
9/22 - Acoustiholics - Countryside Saloon, Countryside, IL
9/22 - Kashmir - Fall Fest, Elmwood Park, IL
9/22 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/23 - Big Boppers w/ Special Guests - Mama & Me Pizzeria, Homewood, IL
9/23 - Witchcross/Wretch/Blackwater/Spyderbone/Astral Mass - Live Wire Lounge, Chicago, IL
9/23 - Sniper - 3 Monkeys, South Chicago Heights, IL
9/23 - JakTripper - Bannerman's, Bartlett, IL
9/23 - Kashmir - Broken Oar, Port Barrington, IL
9/23 - Mortals 2 - Big Twin Tavern, Hartford, MI
9/23 - Johnny Burnett Band - Jimmy's Charhouse, Elk Grove Village, IL
9/29 - Epic - Ballydoyle Irish Pub, Downers Grove, IL
10/10 - Krewella - Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
10/14 - High Anxiety - On The Rox K3, Kankakee, IL
10/21 - The Ides Of March - Watseka Theatre/Iroquois Performing Arts Center, Watseka, IL
11/18 - The Ides Of March - Coronado Theatre, Rockford, IL
11/25 - Cornerstones of Rock - Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL
12/16 - The Ides Of March - Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL







Monday, August 7, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - BigFoot 10k


The BigFoot 10k (and 5k) is part of the BigFoot Triathlon Weekend in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  The event has nothing to do with the mythical (or is it) creature of the same name, but rather, it takes place at the BigFoot Beach State Park.

As mentioned, there is a Triathlon that takes place on Sunday, but the 5k and 10k races take place on Saturday.  The same running course is used for all 3 events.  The 10k is the 5k, times two.

The view from near the starting area is breathtaking as it is across a small street from Lake Geneva itself - and the view is unobstructed.  Makes for a great photo, especially with a panoramic lens.  The course itself is a mixed bag of terrain.  It starts off on grass and is quite flat, within yards from the start, runners head directly towards the picturesque view I just described, they then cross an arched wooden bridge and then disappear into the woods.  The majority of the course is shaded, and in the summer of 2017, that's a major plus!!  At this point, the course is primarily dirt and 2-4 wide, there is really no single trail area.  Briefly the course exits the woods and onto pavement as it cuts through the camping area and then back to dirt.  Not long after that, the course does exit into a large, unshaded, prairie with tall grass to both sides of the short grass trail.  Again, the trail is 2-4 wide, and in this area is essentially flat.  The course heads back into the woods again.  As runners approach the start/finish area, they are greeted with the steepest hill of the day.  It's not extremely steep, but it's one last "gotcha" before entering a grassy flat finish.  One last challenge before the end.  10k runners avoid the finish chute and do it all again.

It's an enjoyable run, lots of changes in scenery and a great view at the start (and midpoint for 10k).

Camping is also available on-site for those that are interested in camping.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Go Run-Humboldt Park


Go Run-Humboldt Park is one of the 3 simultaneous Go Run events that happen almost every Saturday from Spring through Fall in Chicago.  The other two occur in Warren Park and Washington Park.  More information about the Go Run as a program can be found at the bottom of this blog entry.

I've been to Humboldt Park (the actual park, within the neighborhood of the same name) for a 5k before, it was a RAM Racing event and it took place 100% on the streets of the park.  The route on the streets almost resembled a bow-and-arrow.  This run however is VERY different - VERY different.

This run takes place 0% on the streets - as a matter of fact, a runner never puts a foot on the street except going to or from their car.  The entire 5k takes places on the paved bike/walking/jogging path which weaves in and around Humboldt Park (the park, not the neighborhood).  As a matter of fact, it actually goes UNDER a street, twice, as part of the route.  The route first runs a 1-mile loop on one side of the main street, then on the 2nd time around, runners are diverted under the road, on a path that is next to a stream that the road is going over.  The runners then complete about 1 mile on that side of the street, then go back under the same bridge, on the other side of the stream, and finish up on that first loop.  The course is VERY WELL marked, and has a volunteer at that split-location to make sure everybody goes the right way.  

The race starts and finishes next to Little Cubs Field which is amazing ballpark, complete with real stands behind home plate, fencing, and a view of the skyline in center field.  This in itself makes the race scenic.  But the race also goes alongside wetlands, open fields, streams, ponds, and a beach - yes a beach.  This is NOT on Lake Michigan, but rather a pond in Humboldt Park that is used for swimming and beaching.  It even has a boathouse from the way-back times of Chicago - and it's quite a grand building.  90% of the course is shaded, with large trees everywhere.  For a brief moment runners run alongside the park roads, but still on the paved bike/running bike trail.  Runners never need to cross a road or run on a road - the only potential traffic are some Canadian Geese on the trails - and they were kind enough to say in the water during the 5k.  Saying this is a scenic run is an understatement.  It's almost impossible to believe one is right in the heart of city when on this course, except for the view of the skyline when passing Little Cubs Field.  A very serene setting for a 5k.  The course is relatively flat, except for the up and down hills going under the road.  This is one of those 5Ks where it is worth it to get there early (or stay late) and check out the park as a park, and not as a course.  And, as always with Go Run events, excellent volunteers!!

Now, the following section is copy/pasted from an earlier blog about Go Run-Washington Park, but I believe it is important to understand the concept and reason for the Go Run events.  So, if you missed that blog entry, here it is again.

First, a little bit about "Go Run".  Go Run is a series of races, sponsored by CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association), which takes place on Saturdays from Spring through Autumn, at Chicago Parks.  The races are held each Saturday at 9:00am (with check-in beginning at 8:15am) at Washington Park, Warren Park, and Humboldt Park - at the actual parks that the neighborhoods are named after.  The three races literally occur simultaneously - each 5K run/walk (or 1 mile run/walk) kicks off at 9:00am at each park.  This goes on all Spring, Summer, and Autumn.  Pretty much rain or shine, unless the conditions are dangerous (pretty standard for running events).

What makes these events even more unique (aside from occurring every weekend and simultaneously) is that they are FREE.  Yes, 100% FREE.  CARA is a registered charitable organization and one of their methods of giving back is to encourage people to get out and run - or jog - or walk.  And to do it for 5K or 1-Mile, whichever.  These races are timed, but are non-competitive.  There are no awards for first place or for age groups.  It is stressed that people may choose to use this for a leisurely walk around these scenic parks, to jog, to begin or continue a healthy plan, or to run to try and get a fast time.  And every participant understands this and the camaraderie is amazing and healthy.  Just like most running events, participants encourage each other before - during - and after the race - regardless of time and speed.  The fact that this is non-competitive allows for shy newbies to take their first steps (pun intended) into the running event world.  Many people often are self-conscious about joining a crowd run or a competitive run - these events are the PERFECT welcome wagon for ALL levels of running and walking.  In addition, usually entering a running event costs money.  I've seen events as low as $10, but that's a rarity - most start at $30 and just go higher.  Again, another hurdle for the newer runners - or for people who WANT to run every weekend in a friendly group environment, but simply do not have the extra cash to that.

Go Run is also eco-friendly.  Results are not printed out on paper and posted at the event.  Instead they are uploaded to the Go Run webpage - usually within 60 minutes after the final participant crosses.  In addition, participants are given a bib with their assigned number written on it.  This bib can be used at EVERY Go Run event, regardless of which park or which week.  The computer system recognizes the number.  This doesn't sound like much, but the amount of paper that is saved over a 3-month season of 3 races per week adds up to a mound of paper saved!  (by the way, if a person forgets or loses their bib, they do get another one, no charge, no penalty)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Get Your Rear In Gear (Tinley Park)


The Get Your Rear In Gear 5k in Tinley Park is the Featured Running of the Event of the Week.  This event consists of a 5k Timed Run, a Kids Dash, and a 5k Untimed walk.  The 5k run starts the day at 8:00am, the Kids Dash at approximately 8:30am, and the 5k Walk at 9:00am.  The event is hosted by the Colon Cancer Coalition.

The course is an out and back style, starting in Tinley Park's Community Park - located right next door to White Water Canyon Water Park, Tinley Fitness, and the Tinley Park-Park District.  Plenty of parking is available. (I just wanted to say "park" one more time).

The course starts cross-country style with a wide starting line on grass, but after about 20 yards it narrows down to a paved bike/walking/running path.  That path is then used for the duration of the event.  Runners start off by circling all of the venues mentioned above and then head south on the bike path towards the water tower (which can be seen from the start).  At the water tower, runners make a u-turn - and also reach a water-station (how appropriate - do you think they planned the water stop and the foot of the water tower??).

Runners then return to Community Park and loop the venues mentioned again for a finish back at the park proper.  The path is smooth and quite new - it runs past backyards and open fields, along streets, around buildings and over a small wooden bridge.  And along this route are 2 or 3 locals who provided hoses to water down participants who wish to be watered down - and this summer, with humidity over 80% at start time (and an 82 degree temp) - that water was more than welcome!

But what really makes this course something special is "The Blue Mile".  After (or before) the loop around the Park Campus there is about a mile of blue signs on both sides of the path.  These signs are dedications to people who runners are running in memory of, or in dedication to, or in honor of.  The signs are a combination of survivors and those that did not win the battle with cancer.  Some signs have photos, others quotes, and others just names.  Each sign holding significance to all runners and special significance to selected runners (and walkers).

The event isn't just about the races/walks - before it even starts members of the Colon Cancer Coalition talk about colon cancer statistics, survivors, noticing the symptoms, prevention, and screenings.  There is a tent on-site which provides information on screenings.  There is literature related to this terrible disease all over the grounds.  This is truly an opportunity to raise awareness, not just funds, but actual awareness of the disease.  They do such a great job of intermixing the enjoyment of running and walking - with the raising of funds and awareness, that it all just blends together naturally to be an informative and enjoyable time all at once.  Special awards are given to the top survivor finishers as well.

Sponsorship, entry fees, and Blue Mile Donations are all reasonably priced and accessible to nearly everybody who is interested.  The race itself is on an enjoyable course - and the cause is an important one.

More information about the Colon Cancer Coalition can be found at http://coloncancercoalition.org/



Monday, July 17, 2017

Featured Running Event of the Week - Get Your Butt Kicked on 66


The Get Your Butt Kicked on 66 is, as the name implies, and event that takes place on Historic Route 66.  To be precise, it takes place at Route 66 State Park in Missouri, not far from St. Louis.  The park is the home of abandon portions of Route 66 as well as a now dismantled Route 66 bridge over the Meramac River.  The dismantled bridge is a harbinger of the tale of Route 66 State Park, which at one time was the populated town of Times Beach.  Quite the interesting, and sad, tale of Times Beach, which is best described by this Wikipedia article.   Now, this area is a picture perfect state park, with trees, and fields, and ponds, and walking and biking and equestrian paths.

So, that's the place, now here's the race.  The Get Your Butt Kicked on 66 is a 6-Hour Endurance Race.  The idea of an endurance race is to get as many miles in, during the 6 hour time period, as one can (or one wishes to attempt, as runners are free to stop at any time, they can also restarted at any time - within the 6 hour window).  Some people use this as a way to run a selected distance, some just want to stay "in motion" for the full 6 hours, some walk the entire time, some stop after a certain number of loops.  That's the beauty of Endurance Races - you can complete whatever you want (or try to accomplish whatever you want) as long as it is within the time window.

This particular race starts at 6:00pm and goes for 6 hours (catching a Route 66 theme here?).  The first 2.5 is in the sunlight.  Sunlight in Missouri in July is bad enough, however, the route sits in a valley near a river, so add humidity to the mixture.  This race is more about the conditions than the terrain.  The next 30 minutes is in the setting sun, and the remaining 3 hours is in the dark, requiring headlamps, flashlights, shoelights, or such other lighting concoctions.

The path itself is mostly flat, there is one rapid decline, a long nearly-flat incline, and some nearly-flat declines.  The track is about an even mixture of pavement, chip-n-seal, and crushed gravel.  The entire trail is plenty wide allowing for passing of quicker participants with ease, and no real choke points.  The final stretch gets a little narrow, especially during the final minutes when participants are on the short loop trying to get in those final miles - but it's not bad.

That short loop?  So, the main course is a 2.45 (ish) mile loop on the paths described above, which also includes the park streets.  Participants traverse this route for as long as they want.  But remember, in Endurance Racing, only completed laps count, so nobody wants to be caught out on the loop when time expires.  Thus, the "short loop".  Participants, during the final 60 minutes (some races it's final 30, 45, 15, depends) can run a "short loop".  In this case, it is a 1/3rd mile loop almost primarily on the streets and parking lots, and then on the same narrow final stretch.  Runners can apply strategy here, and decide how soon or how late to hit the short course.  Those final 15 minutes, the short loop is busy!!!

The course has a main aid station at the start/finish line, complete with water, sports drink, pretzels, pickles, M&Ms, fruits, and other assortments.  Mid-way (ish) through the course is a water & sports drink aid station.  Participants are actually able to park their vehicles right along the front stretch, and also right before the final stretch.  These can be used as personal aid stations, where participants can setup tents, drinks, food, chairs, etc etc.  The route makes this VERY easy to do - literally, cars are 2 feet from the running area.  Early arrivals get better spots.

A challenging race, the name sums it up!  The battle is with heat, humidity, nightfall, bugs, and one's inner strength.

Just for kicks - the photo below is a picture I took before the race of the dismantled Route 66 Bridge - from underneath.  (the course does not go under the bridge)