Hilly experience at Races for All Paces

by Jeff Kohmstedt; photos by Leo Covis

The Races for All Paces half marathon in Charleston was a surprising gem. This was the first time I’d run the event that I gather has been around for a few years. The race took place on May 14, the same weekend as the Kirby Derby and the Not Your Average Joe races. Those races draw a lot of Second Winders, so it was no surprise that the only Second Winders in Charleston were Verena “V” Hoefig, Leo Covis (spectating because of injury) and me. 

The field was quite small. It had to be, if I was   leading the race for 6.5 of the first 7.5 miles.    

That said, it was a quality race. This was mostly because the route was absolutely beautiful. Those not familiar with Charleston might think since it’s East Central Illinois that it would be flat. Charleston was the site of glacial moraines during past ice ages. As a   result, the terrain consists of significant rolling hills. The route was tree-lined, crossing the Embarras River twice. There was plenty of wildlife to see as well. I saw deer and V saw a bald eagle along the river.    

The hills are deceptively difficult. According to my watch, there was a gain in elevation of 650 feet. And it was the hills that killed me. That and the wind. It was blowing at around 15-20 mph. I bonked hard after the tenth mile. At that point I was thinking, “just no more hills,” but of course that request was denied.    

The race organization seemed solid. They had the half marathon plus a 10K and a 5K timed to end all at about the same time. The only finishing food seemed to be bananas though. The volunteers were awesome, the registration process was smooth, and the location on the EIU campus was well-thought-out.    

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone, and I would do it again. Next time I’d like to train for hills in advance, if possible. I mentioned they killed me, right?     

This race report originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of In Passing.