Henry Lang Recreation CenterThis morning at 9 o’clock, one block east of the Henry Lang Recreation Center in Burbank (Illinois, not¬†California, folks), about 500 runners gathered for the annual Frosty 5K Run (and 1 Mile Walk), a solid, no-frills suburban 5K. It’s not completely clear which year the run is in, but based on race results going back to 2005, it seems to be the 9th annual. I’d buy that. Race coordinators and volunteers seemed pretty on-the-ball; parking right near the starting line was simple, packet pick-up was no problem (though they did run out of race shirts – asking runners to provide an address where the shirt could be mailed at a later date) and participants were quick to be corralled to the starting line. A dancing snowman (probably named Frosty) provided the majority of the entertainment, dancing at the starting line and again around mile three.

The course wound through wide, flat neighborhood streets between 80th and 85th streets with plenty of straightaways making it an especially fast course. And despite the race’s title and some biting wind on the north/south stretches, conditions weren’t especially “frosty” this morning, with the temperature hovering right around 40. Conveniently, the final stretch of course ran for several blocks straight west on 81st Street, allowing runners plenty of time to make proper use of whatever reserves they had saved for the finish line.

burbank park startThe post-race party took place in the warm confines of the recreation center, where results were printed out and posted on a wall (with occasional updates as more runners came in). Plenty of cookies, water and soup were served by volunteers (though the food line was a bit cumbersome, sometimes blocking the entrance to the room itself). Race directors didn’t dawdle, passing out an impressive amount of donated raffle prizes and then age group trophies (not medals) to those runners who stuck around.¬†And once again, Frosty kept things lively, dancing and gesturing with each new announcement.

burbank park finishThough the Burbank Park District’s Frosty 5K Run breaks no new ground, it doesn’t aspire to. It’s a basic race at a basic price ($20-$25 for the 5K, $15 for the 1 mile walk) and race directors deliver at that price point, offering up a safe, clear, chip-timed course with appropriately-placed mile markers (no timers at those markers) and a laid back after party filled with prizes. The race shirts are long-sleeve cotton, but the Frosty logo and baby blue color add a nice twist.

This is no race to rave about but it’s a friendly, well-organized event that provides a nice off-season outlet for street racers.