Long before the Illinois landscape was dotted with corporate-sponsored mud runs and fabricated courses, the Cross Country Challenge utilized Mother Nature in an event that tested a runner’s mettle and ability to deal with unfamiliar and unpredictable terrain.
In fact, for over 30 years, the Cross Country Challenge has attracted adventurous runners to a course chock-full of hills, uneven footing, water, mud, plants and nature. Of course, the terrain is ever evolving owing to the fact that Jim Brimm, the event’s owner since 1982, believes in a 100 percent natural course. Runners will never encounter manmade obstacles or goofy attempts to “toughen” a flat and fast landscape. Instead, runners will encounter a true challenge – a December morning through the fields and hills of Gilberts, Ill. no ridiculous climbing contraptions or fire required – that’s a guarantee.
“You’re gonna get wet and dirty,” says Brimm. “People Duct tape their shoes, but we still see runners, even winners, cross the finish with only one shoe.”
As challenging as the course may be, one of the biggest draws to this event may be good old-fashioned Midwestern hospitality. Before and after the event, participants and spectators meet under the roof of a modern and comfy horse training center for what is, without question, one of the best meals offered by any endurance event in the country. “We provide a ton of food. We hire a catering company and serve chicken, roast beef, pasta salads and much more,” says Brimm. “We will feed you as much food as you want to eat.”
For more than three decades, the Cross Country Challenge has been a local running staple, not through flashy advertising and sponsors, but through word-of-mouth and a winning recipe of dirt and food. “Some of our adults ran this event as children,” says Brimm. “Today, they’re bringing their own kids back to race.”
This year, mark the “Cross Country Challenge” on your endurance calendar and come experience a true Chicago area tradition 30 years in the making.
For more information, please visit: http://www.crosscountrychallenge.net