If you looked around the Illiniwek Forest Preserve this past Saturday night, with the bonfires, pizza, Swedish Fish and beer around, a late afternoon and evening trail run might have been the last thing you thought was going on there. And that’s exactly the way The Foundation owner, Brandon Bartz and Fleet Feet Davenport owner Phil Young wanted it for their Illiniwek: Race the Night trail run race event. “Phil and I are both pretty stoked about it,” explained Bartz. “It was really cool out here tonight and that made running fun and made sticking around after easy. I think more on that, we did try to focus on the atmosphere side of it.”

Having Mother Nature on their side didn’t hurt at all, as the temperatures were in the high 70’s as the marathon portion of the evening kicked off at 4pm and cool crisp air crept in for the 14k and 7k at 7:45 and 8:00pm. The weather also helped the last-minute push for those registering the day of and made those whom already signed up very happy. “We were pretty on par with numbers going in as far as the participants. And as far as the last few days and day of, we are up on numbers quite a bit, said Bartz. “I only bring that up and say that because this is about trying to get people out on trails and enjoying themselves and so the more people we get out here running around with headlamps on, that’s a win.”

With the addition of the marathon distance option for this event, Bartz knew that would bring out a different type of runner and not just the short distance type that he’s used to for this event. That added a level of competitiveness for that race as well as the 14k and 7k that followed a few hours later. “I think there’s levels of competition that we are talking about, starting off with the marathon distance,” explained Bartz. “That has a different style of competition. The competitive side of that is how long can you hang on? All the way down to the 7k and 14k, which are obviously faster. It’s not about hanging on, it’s about going fast and winning. A lot of people are going from saying, hey I’m going to run my first trail race and see what happens to hey last year I came out here and felt good and saw what happened and I liked it, and now I want to win.”

And that’s what brought local obstacle course and trail runner, Alexandra Cunningham, back for another year of this run as she took third place last year in her age division. “I personally wanted to do it again because it was fun and challenging course,” said Alexandra. “You think that it’s easy but it’s actually a lot more challenging because, you obviously don’t want to fall. I was a lot more comfortable and I actually tried for time this year and I went a lot faster. I got trail running shoes because that’s how serious I was about it. I didn’t place like I did last year which is making me want to do it again. I wish the trail run was a lot sooner than a year from now, but I have plenty of time to train.”

Bartz and Young clearly see that there is an untapped market for trail running events in the QC. And with two more events later this fall, Bartz hopes to continue to help make trail running a must for everyone. “The trail community is awesome,” said Bartz. “It’s amazing and its growing and there’s great promoters in the Quad Cities doing great things for this sport. I’m honestly just happy to be a part of it.”

For more information or to register for the Lost Roads Endurance Run on Saturday, September 7th visit:

For more information or to sign up for the Blackhawk Trail “Spirit of the Sauk” 5k, 10k and Kids Fun Run on Saturday, October 19th visit:

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