The running season has gotten off to an early start this year. You can thank Mother Earth or BP for that. If there are benefits to the rise in temperature, one should be that we’ll be more acclimated for upcoming races such as the Cristie Clinic Illinois Marathon. It’s on April 27 & 28 this year and includes the expo (beginning on April 26), the Friday night 5k, and the youth run, 10k, half, full, and marathon relay on Saturday. Registration for all events closes on April 1, so if you haven’t registered, do so now.

According to the race website, numbers of participants look good this year. The half marathon looks to be about 90% full.

For those interested, Abe will again make an appearance this year. And he’s found friends to join him in the marathon relay as Team Mt. Runmore. Yes, I’ve actually found three other guys willing to run a portion of the marathon course in costume. I’ll run the first leg and continue on with “Teddy Roosevelt” until he splits off at 4th and Gregory. Cheer on Mt. Runmore if you see us carrying the flag!

Other upcoming races in the area include:

March 31 — Second Wind Running Club’s signature Clinton Ultra is this weekend. If you haven’t already signed up for the 30 or 10 miler, you’re out of luck. Registration is closed. If you’d like to plan for next year, though, check out their website early next year.

March 31 — Ring in the Spring Illini Mentor Program (IMP) 5k and 1-mile fun run takes place on the U of I Quad. Click here for more information.

March 31 — The Cancer Runners Cross Country Run Walk takes place at Kickapoo State Park. This is a 3 or 7.7 mile run/walk. For more information, visit their website.

April 1 — April Fools 5k at the U of I Arboretum promises to be a challenging run. It follows the U of I Cross Country team’s competition course. It sounds like fun, but my ankles would prefer they stay healthy. No uneven ground for me this close to half marathon season. Their race information is here.

April 7 — The Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon runs in Springfield. Yours truly will take part in costume, of course. I don’t just grow this beard for a one-off showing at the Illinois Marathon. This is a great race if you’re up to that distance. If you’ve trained for the Illinois Marathon or half marathon, you’re plenty good to run this race. Visit the race here.

April 7 — Interested in something different? Try the Lake Sara Dam Run in Effingham. It’s an 8-mile run, but there is also a 5k option. But, no one is going to drive all the way to Effingham for a 5k. Their site is here.

In April, there are just too many races to list. If you throw a pair of running shoes at a calendar, you’re bound to hit a weekend with something going on. For a larger list of upcoming races, visit Second Wind’s race calendar.

Keep running!