Get on your marks for 2019

Get on your marks for 2019

Whether your goal for 2019 is to try a new race, complete a race at a new distance or run your first race, I’ve got suggestions for (mostly) local races for each month of the new year. Some of these are races that I really like. Some I’ve never run, but they get high marks from other runners. I hope you find one that challenges you and that you enjoy.

The Fit List -- a race calendar that I compiled for many years -- has been on a long hiatus, but it will be back in 2019. Look for it on my Starting Line blog at

Happy racing!


Siberian Express Trail Run: This is a 7.45-mile trail race at Kickapoo State Recreation Area. It is a Kennekuk Road Runners club race, and it is always held the first Saturday in January, no matter what the weather. It’s been held following a blizzard, in rain and shoe-sucking mud, and when it’s warm enough for shorts and T-shirts. Go to for more information.


Charleston Challenge Mid-Winter Classic: This early-February race in Charleston includes distances of 5K, 10K and 15K. I’ve never run it, but this year is my year. Go to for more information.

Mountain Goat Hill Runs: This mid-March race at Kickapoo State Recreation Area features a hilly course for 4.4-mile and 8.8-mile runs and a 2.2-mile walk. Go to for more information.


Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon: There are lots of great races in April, including the Allerton Trails races, the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon and the Lake Sara Dam Run, but you can’t miss the Illinois Marathon. The races include a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon relay and marathon, as well as a kids’ race, and everyone finishes in Memorial Stadium. The support from spectators and volunteers is great. Go to for more information.


Kirby Derby: This Monticello race in mid-May includes distances of 5K and 10K, as well as a kids’ race. Go to for more information.


Steamboat Classic: These mid-June races are in Peoria. There is a flat and fast 4-mile race that attracts elite runners; a hilly 15K; and a 2-mile run. Go to for more information.


Mile at the Pines: See how fast you can run a mile at this race along Philo Road in Urbana. There are nine waves for various classes of runners. Go to for more information.


Sage City Triathlon: This triathlon in Monticello includes a sprint distance, a sprint relay and a mini-triathlon distance. The swim is in the Monticello city pool. Go to for more information.


Shoreline Classic: September is another month with a ton of good races -- the Rat Race in Arthur, the Broom Corn Festival races in Arcola, the Women’s Fitness 5K in Urbana and the Wild Wild Wilderness at Kickapoo State Recreation Area. The one I never miss is Shoreline Classic in Decatur. There are 5K and 15K distances along Lake Decatur. Go to for more information.


Allerton Park Trail Run: This 5.7-mile trail race is run at Allerton Park on the last Sunday in October. Because it falls around Halloween, many runners dress in costume, and there is a costume contest following the race and a post-race brunch. Go to for more information.


Abe’s Trail Trek: These trail races are at the New Salem State Historic Site in Petersburg. There is a half marathon, a 10K and a 5K fun run/walk. Go to for more information.


Santa HO HO HO: This 5K fun run/walk in St. Joseph debuted on the weekend preceding Christmas. Runners got a Santa hat and beard and red shirts to wear during the race. Search for “SJ Santa HO HO HO 5K” on Facebook for more information.


Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner and triathlete. You can email her at, or follow her at Her blog is at


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