It's one of those races that make up the majority of running events on the calendar. A relatively small, community 5k in the suburbs. I do lots of these every summer. They mix in nicely with all the huge downtown events. Only this one was much more personal to me.
A year and a half ago, my daughter Shona, who was five at the time, was sledding on a hill near the house, when she ran into a pole head first. She suffered a fractured skull very near the eye socket. After first getting treatment at Elmhurst Hospital, they felt she needed the expertise available a few miles away at Loyola in Maywood.
I left work immediately and raced to the hospital, where I spent a nervous night with her in the room. It was an experience I won't soon forget, because of the fear that goes through any parent's mind when their child has a potentially serious medical condition.
Thankfully, the injury turned out not to be as serious as it might have been if the fracture was a few millimeters closer to her eye. She is fine now, and I even got her out sledding again this winter (on a hill with no poles or trees in sight).
There were several other teams running who raised money for the hospital in honor of patients who have been treated there. Family and friends of Owen Wills numbered more than 300, and they were easily the top fundraisers, raising more than $30,000.
Which brings me back to the race. This was another weekend filled with large events that I have enjoyed in the past, including the 13.1 half marathon on south lakefront, and the Ragnar Madison to Chicago 200 mile relay. But as has been the case much of the year, my kids were my top priority, so I chose skip the longer races, which would have kept me from them for longer. Instead, I brought them along for the Loyola race, which I happily agreed to emcee.
As it turned out, my kids chose the shorter 'kids races' after the 5k, so I ended up needing to watch them rather than run the 5k myself. That might have been a good thing, as I avoided the potential embarrassment of being badly beaten by Lars Juhl, who won the race in 16:45, despite pushing his child in a stroller the whole way! Imagine how fast he could run without the stroller!
In all, there were nearly 2000 runners in the event. They raised nearly $200,000 to benefit the Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital at Loyola. This was the third year of the event, and the largest field, as well as a record amout of money raised.
It was also a great deal of fun for the kids. I've written in this space about numerous races that I've brought the kids to. But I'd have to say this one was more focused on them than almost any other I can think of. I think my youngest daughter was much more excited about the 'Batman' face-painting job than the ribbon she got for finishing the kids race.
Yeah, there will be more races this summer. And I will try to be competitive in some of them. But I have no regrets about not running in the race Sunday. This was family time I won't ever get back. There will always be another chance to run. I got my miles in on the treadmill later in the day.
But there won't be many chances like this to offer thanks to those who helped make sure your child is healthy. Thank you Loyola, and congratulations on a nice race.
See you on the roads.....