The summer road racing season hits high gear in northeast Indiana with at least a dozen offerings over the next 11 days. And with the current heat wave predicted to continue, it's a good thing that many of them involve lakes.
With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday this year, there are options to race three times in eight days, if you so wish. You can run this weekend, then at one of several July Fourth races and again July 7.
The spree begins with a race of historical proportions: Old Settlers Day 4-miler at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbia City. This race dates back to the early '80s (if not before) when I ran the race as a high schooler. Back then it was a 10K, like most races, and started and finished downtown on the city square. If memory serves me, it was really hot back then, too. In fact, the 1983 race featured many local high school and college standouts with the top 10 all finishing under 35 minutes.
Fortunately, this year's Old Settler's Day is only a 4-miler and takes place in the evening. After a first mile up the main boulevard, much of the course is through the greenway with plenty of shade and a tour through Morsches Park.
The race's salvation has been Brian Shepherd, who rescued Old Settlers and many other races 20 years ago and still directs them. For more information on this race, call Brian at 260-894-4638.
On Saturday are a 5K cross-country race on the grounds of the Concordia Seminary (Cross Connections C3) and a 5K road race at Crooked Lake in Angola (Rise Run Down 5K). The former begins at 9 a.m. and is a fundraiser for a Christian-based counseling ministry. Contact is Matt Konow (744-3228, Ext. 337). The latter begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Steuben County 76 Park. For more information, call 260-665-9408.
The Fourth of July provides several races, but the highlights are the 35th running of The Flotilla at Lakeside Park in Syracuse and The Firecracker Four at Franke Park in Fort Wayne.
The Flotilla is actually two oddly distanced races: a 3.3-mile and an 8-mile. Both races begin at 8 a.m. and follow a hilly course from Lakeside Park north and then east before coming back along Syracuse Lake. The 8-mile continues with a complete counterclockwise loop around Syracuse Lake.
The Flotilla is another Shepherd reclamation project and helps start a day of festivities on Syracuse Lake called The Flotilla.
For The Firecracker, formerly The Zoo Run, the course is still the same except for a late-race tour through the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. There is still the challenging old Soap Box Derby Hill that runners must conquer twice along with a few other hills. It is mostly a road race with some grass running. Contact is Mac McAvoy, 450-1071 or email@example.com. The race begins at 7:30 a.m.
On July 7, the highlights are the Hamilton Lake Road Classic 5K and the Loon Lake 5.5K run/walk.
The Hamilton race begins at 7:30 a.m. from downtown and was the brainchild of Brad Stevens who founded the race to help fund the town's walking trails. Those trails have been built but the race lives on. For more information, contact Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Loon Lake 5.5K takes place at 8 a.m. at the campground east of the lake, which is north of Columbia City. The course is scenic with rolling hills and includes several great views of the lake. For more information contact Christina Rice at 403-5785.