Richard Fague took the Forest Preserve District’s “Harvest Hustle” virtual 5K program to the next level.
Instead of running one virtual 5K race during the month of October, as the program required, the 44-year-old Lockport resident ran 11 races in a row on all 11 trails designated for the program.
He spotted a “Harvest Hustle” announcement on an information board at Hadley Valley Preserve a while back and took a photo of it with his phone so he could remember to sign up. He said it is just what he needed to ramp up his training.
“I needed the motivation” he said. “I had been slacking and I was coming off a plantar fasciitis injury, which brought me down at the end of last year.”
He started his mega “Harvest Hustle” quest on Wednesday, October 13 – just three days after running the Chicago Marathon – and he finished his 11th run in a row on October 23. (The program ended October 31.)
His first outing was on the Messenger Woods Nature Trail in Homer Glen. His second run was on the DuPage River Trail at Whalon Lake in Naperville. On Friday, October 15, he stopped by the Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet for a quick pre-race interview before hitting the Wauponsee Glacial Trail.
Why did he decide to do this? It’s simple: Fague loves to run, and he loves nature. And both running and being outdoors is keeping him healthy and away from alcohol, something he had a problem with in the past but has been able to kick for the past two years.
Fague started running six years ago when he was dating a woman who loved to run. He and the woman parted ways, but the running stuck.
“I’ve done seven marathons and a couple of ultra-marathons,” he said. “But I want to do a 50K and a 100-miler.”
Fague was living in his home state of Rhode Island when he was transferred to Lockport in June 2020 to become a supervisor at a Mokena distribution facility.
“I love it out here because there are so many places to run,” he said of his new home turf. “Every weekend I go somewhere new.”
Since being interviewed on October 15, Fague ran the rest of the trails in the program in this order: Lake Renwick Bikeway, Old Plank Road Trail, Hickory Creek Bikeway, Rock Run Greenway Trail, I&M Canal Trail, Prairie Bluff Trail, Spring Creek Greenway Trail and Plum Creek Greenway Trail.
"I really have enjoyed them all!" he said of his progress. "I will return to them once I'm done and really explore them."
The longer he is in Will County, the more he has been shifting from road running to trail running. Trail running requires more endurance than road running “because you’re hopping over rocks and watching your feet,” he said. “When you’re on the road, your eyes are just straight ahead. Eyes forward and just running. Trail running is just a totally different beast.”
As part of his quest to stay sober, Fague is an athlete ambassador for a nonalcoholic beer company called Athletic Brewing Co. And he participates in charity runs. He raised $1,750 for Mercy Home Heroes during the Chicago Marathon.
Fague’s goal is to run the Boston Marathon next year, but he has to run a marathon in around 3 hours and 10 minutes to qualify in his age group. He said he’s not quite to that level yet.
He’s hoping his “Harvest Hustle” challenge will help get him there. But even if it doesn’t, he figures he is still a winner by being outdoors and staying active.
“I’m a lot healthier being out in the woods in the crisp clean air,” he said. “Even in the rain at Messenger Woods, where I ran the first one, it's very refreshing and running for me is mind clearing.”
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