Tour de La Porte, La Porte, Indiana
Living in New England has allowed access to a number of states that were a reasonable drive from home. However, now that those states have been checked off, a flight is generally necessary to reach our destination.
This summer it was decided that we would travel to Michigan for some R & R (running and relaxation). Our new goal is to attempt to incorporate more than one state into our trips, if possible. Incredibly, we located a race in Indiana that would be directly on our route as we drove from Chicago to our race in Michigan and it was the day before our half marathon in Michigan.
The Running in the USA website has become our absolute go-to resource when we are looking for races. You just click on the state you are interested in and then choose the month you want to run. They list multiple races, generally with race website links. We love that when you click on the city that the race is in a map is provided and there is a “get directions” section right there so you can easily plot out distances.
The Tour de La Porte is a 3 day event that included a trail run, half marathon, 10K, and a 5K, as well as various cycling events. The race supports those with cancer in the community through the La Porte Hospital Foundation. We signed up for the 5K race since we were running a half marathon the next day in Michigan. There is a special award to people who compete in events on all three days.
We flew into Chicago and then headed to La Porte. Neither of us had been to Indiana so we chose the more scenic route that traveled near Lake Michigan. We were intrigued by the signs for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and pulled into a parking area. Although we enjoyed our stroll along the wooded paths we were puzzled that we didn’t encounter what we would call a dune. But based on literature for the park if we had ventured closer to the lake we would undoubtedly have seen more traditional dunes.
I was enthralled by the wildflowers which were unlike the ones I was familiar with in Maine.
The room we had booked at the Best Western in La Porte was clean and comfortable and the staff was friendly and accommodating. The best part, however, was that it was less than a half mile walk to Soldier Memorial Park where the race events were based. Picking up our race packets and t-shirts late Friday afternoon was a breeze. We drove the course to get an idea of what we would encounter the next day and then did a little exploring of LaPorte.
We scoped out T-Bones Pier as a possibility for dinner. It’s waterfront location on Pine Lake was appealing and the menu looked appetizing. It was empty when we walked through during the afternoon but we were assured they would be open for dinner. When we returned a few hours later, dinner was in full swing and the only available seats were on the deck beside the lake. It was VERY warm outside and while I notoriously petition to sit outside whenever possible, Mike often votes for the admittedly more reasonable choice of air conditioned comfort. He (reluctantly) agreed to sit outside at a table that we were assured had an umbrella. Unfortunately, the angle of the sun was below the umbrella resulting in a scorchingly hot meal. Our server was prompt and attentive and made sure we were well supplied with water and ice. The dinners were tasty and the view was pleasant, but I had to admit the heat did diminish the enjoyment of the evening.
The next morning was cool and misty which was a welcome change from the intense heat of the day before. We strolled to the start of the race at Soldiers Memorial Park and had sufficient time to warm up, find bathrooms with no waiting lines in a nearby bath house (!), and enjoy the view of the mist rising off the lake with a lone fisherman in his boat emerging from the fog.
Our 5K race started promptly following earlier starts of the other races. The mist had burned off by the time we were running and the hot, humid conditions returned. The course was scenic and often shady with only a few small hills so we felt wonderful during the race. Feeling wonderful was particularly terrific for me because the week leading up to the race I had experienced a sudden, acute hip and lower back pain that was significantly impeding my running. Thankfully, following a treatment by Tom of Family Acupuncture Center of Kennebunk, Maine and a fabulous massage from my amazing friend and massage therapist, Janice, I ran virtually pain free.
We crossed the finish line hand in hand feeling strong and pleased with our run. The post-race refreshments were plentiful and we enjoyed stretching and relaxing by the lake as we awaited the awards ceremony. As we took a few photos we chatted with a number of fellow runners. Everyone we encountered was exceptionally welcoming and friendly, really going out of their way to chat and interact.
I was thrilled to place 3rd in my age group. Mike so kindly likes to suggest that I can do this in races where the “good runners” compete in the accompanying half marathon. Regardless, I was happy with my time and my medal!
Date Run: August 22, 2014
Quest Race Number 17
The Bottom Line: We loved the welcoming people, the scenic course,the spiffy t-shirt, (my cool medal!) and the overall organization and feel of this event! What started off as a plan to conveniently check Indiana off our list turned into an exceptionally enjoyable race. We highly recommend this race and if we were in Indiana again we would certainly sign-up again.