Tropical drinks and Jimmy Buffett songs may be standard for relaxing at the beach or swinging in a backyard hammock, but for area runners, the libations and island soundtracks signal the return of North Riverside’s Memorial Day 5K race.
After a strong turnout in last year’s inaugural event, the village’s “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere” 5K run and walk is back.
“We felt like we proved ourselves with a quality race,” North Riverside Recreation Director Teresa Michalik said. “It was timed, it was certified, and in addition, the goody bags were chockfull of stuff.”
While North Riverside’s Recreation Department has always hosted numerous events for children and adults, Michalik helped create the race in 2015 after feeling the village was missing something that would get community members active while at the same time enjoying the town’s beauty.
“[The Recreation Department] loves outside visitors coming, we are totally open to everyone joining our programs and we thought, ‘What a great way to showcase the pretty parks and what we have to offer,'” she said about the race’s creation.
While the 3.1-mile race has a tropical theme coinciding with Memorial Day’s unofficial start to the summer season, the fun name for the race stemmed from the idea that the first race started early in the day and had a lot of associations with the number five.
“The idea of ‘It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere’ was based off of the fact that we were putting a band in the park at 8:30 in the morning, the 5K was starting early, it was the fifth month, the 25th day and the 15th year, so there were a lot of fives going on at that point,” Michalik said.
This year’s race will be held on Monday, May 30. Things kick off at 8:30 a.m. with Caribbean band South of Disorder playing music in the North Riverside Village Commons rear parking lot, 2401 Desplaines Ave. Before the race begins, there will be a salute to the troops at 8:50 a.m.
Michalik says while she hopes participants have a fun time at the race, they also reflect on the importance of the Memorial Day holiday.
“Everybody sees Memorial Day as a party weekend,” she said. “Not that [people] forget why the holiday exists, but we wanted to kind of tie the two together.”
To honor deceased military personnel and support local veterans, proceeds from this year’s race have been selected to go towards Disabled American Veterans.
The recreation department selected the nonprofit as this year’s charity after their active support at last year’s event and communication with local 1st Junior Vice Commander Scott Bitner.
“They had reached out to us last year inquiring what [the race] was about, and we had asked if they were interested in speaking and sending a veteran to talk for a little bit,” Michalik said. “From there, they had a table and Bitner did a little speech.”
At 9 a.m., runners and walkers will then make their way through the east end of North Riverside, racing to music provided by calypso music band Steel Express and various DJs set up throughout the course. Participants have one hour to finish the race, which both starts and finishes at the commons.
Following the race, the top three male and female participants in various age categories will be presented with awards and everyone will be provided T-shirts, tropical party goods and snacks. Tropical drinks will also be available for purchase for $1. Military personnel from the North Riverside Park Mall’s recruitment station will be on hand at the event along with members of the Illinois National Guard based in town.
Last year, roughly 320 people completed the inaugural race and Michalik says the goal is to have 400 people cross this year’s finish line.
The Recreation Department is continuing to take race registrations through May 25. Individuals age 7 and up are invited to participate in the race and the registration rate is $35.
Participants can save $5 off registration by mentioning the Recreation Department’s postings seen on Facebook.com/NRRecreation and also save an additional $1 by sharing the event on their personal Facebook pages.
Registration may be done in person at the Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave., by calling the Recreation Department at 708-442-5515 or online by visiting www.active.com and searching “North Riverside 5K.”