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About the Race
The run (that we fondly just call “Allerton”) is a 5.7 mile trail run (and 2 mile untimed walk) held on the estate of Robert Allerton Park in Monticello, IL. It is always the last Sunday in October, which obviously occasionally falls on Halloween. The time of year at Allerton is beautiful as the trail is through fall-colored forests and past the unique gardens and statuary of Allerton Park.
It is a trail race, which means that runners may find hidden roots, ruts, sharp turns, and other obstacles. The race course follows the river which has proven quite challenging over the years. When the river is high we have to re-route lest we change the race to a duathalon. Still, no matter the rainfall, the trail on the river side is often quite muddy. It can be slippery and certainly splattery. We look at this as a positive feature. Afterall, it’s a trail run. We take great care with preparing the trail to prevent injuries. The day before the race, we have a crew walk the course, clearing it of the large (3 inch!) green walnut balls, branches and marking roots with orange powder.
This is the 25th year! It is our club’s longstanding race.
Who usually participates? Who would enjoy this event? How's the turnout?
This is a solid mid state run. We get runners from Springfield, Decatur, Bloomington and the communities 60 miles around. This run is a good fit for trail runners and runners that enjoy comraderie. We call it “run” because it is awfully difficult to race. Paths are narrow, runners are many, and we want to encourage the friendly idea of a run. And tho we have “course records” – the course distance changes incrementally from year to year as we adjust. Allerton is a run.
Our turnout started at 343 in 1988. This year we are closing in on 600 registered (not that many finish). We have 11 years worth of finisher numbers. We peaked at 543 in 1999.
Why Allerton Park?
The park is a treasure to be cared for an enjoyed. Greer Kimmel said in 1993: "The idea [of having a race at Allerton] was such a good one, and such a natural, it's amazing no one thought of it earlier. . . . So why didn't someone start a race out there long ago? We don't know. And neither did Dave Cobb and Roland Kehe when they decided it was time to invent the race."
In addition to paying the park for its use, we donate proceeds back. They are quite gracious in support and ask how we would like our donations used. They have used our donation towards a railing at a dangerous spot, trail erosion control, recycle bins and more. We feel quite lucky and blessed that the park allows us to bring 1,200+(?) people into it with 600 pounding the trails.
How is Halloween tied in with the run?
Halloween is just a happenstance. We hold the race on the last Sunday in October. If I had to guess, there were factors of weather and the Chicago marathon at play. Whether the race falls on Halloween or not, we like to have fun and encourage costumes to be worn and the trail is decorated accordingly. We added costume awards to encourage everyone to participate!
Post race activities?
The race ends in the meadow. Family and friends gather while a local radio station provides music. We have a post run brunch that is largely supported by our club’s cooking and donations. We have an awards ceremony with many age group awards and also many drawings.