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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

First-Ever Bloomingdale Trail Run Shuts Down Popular Trail Saturday Morning

So far, about 300 runners have signed up to participate in the paid run. A 'Family Fun Walk' will be free.

Runners on The 606's Bloomingdale Trail on a recent morning.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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THE 606 — The Bloomingdale Trail will close to anyone not participating in a timed run or a more leisurely Family Fun Walk on Saturday morning.

The Bloomingdale Trail Run, which costs $35, will start at 9 a.m. in Walsh Park at the trail’s eastern end in Bucktown and extend 2.7 miles to the finish line at the western end in Humboldt Park.

A free 1.5-mile Family Fun Walk will kickoff at 9:45 a.m. in Bucktown’s Churchill Park and end at Humboldt Boulevard. 

Organizers said the trail will be closed to the public roughly from 8:30 – 11 a.m. Saturday for the race and walk. The event is being produced by The Trust for Public Land in partnership with the Chicago Park District and neighbor-led Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail.

So far, about 500 people have signed up for the run and walk, according to Caroline O’Boyle, director of programs and partnerships for the Trust for Public Land.

After the run and Family Fun Walk, organizers will host a pancake breakfast, which costs $15 per adult ($10 for those also taking part in the run) and $8 per child.

While dogs on leashes and scooters will be allowed at the Family Fun Walk, bikes will not be permitted on the trail during the run or the walk, according to the event’s website.

Those interested can sign up the morning of the event, which ends with a free block party along Humboldt Boulevard to celebrate The 606’s fourth anniversary. 

Benjamin Helphand, president of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, said event proceeds will benefit five ground-level parks in Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park, and also be used on programs like Berries for Bloomingdale, camping and tours.

All runners will receive a complimentary poster made by Logan Square’s Fugscreens Studios.

The posters will also be for sale with any donation of $10 or more at the block party’s Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail booth.

A Bloomingdale Trail poster by Fugscreens Studios. [Provided] 

The top race finishers in each age group will receive a wooden block branded with the race’s logo and a railroad spike drilled through it as homage to the trail’s former history as a railroad line. Norman Teague, owner of BlkHaus studios, made the unique prizes. 

Race trophies made by Norman Teague, owner of BlkHaus studios. [Provided]

Saturday’s closure will mark the first time that the trail will close to the public since a $200 per plate private dinner hosted by chef Rick Bayless last September. In that case, Chicago Gourmet Fest, which produced the event, paid the Chicago Park District $12,550 for a special use permit to shut down the eastern end of the trail.

Since The Trust for Public Land works in partnership with the Park District, O’Boyle said they did not have to pay a rental fee to close down the trail on Saturday.

Helphand, who also spoke with Streetsblog Chicago about the planned closures last month, told Block Club on Thursday that the feedback about the closure so far has been “mostly positive.”

“People have been really understanding, people realize that it’s a short closing and the benefits are directly related to the trail itself,” Helphand said. 

Atop the trail, there has been plenty of advanced notice for the run, with freestanding signs installed at various entrances, plus signs on trash cans and even chalk stenciling on the pavement to further remind regular users of the trail of the upcoming closure. 

“The [chalk stenciling] is an experimental way to communicate on the trail in addition to the signs on the trash cans. When you’re running, you are looking at the trail and not at the trash cans,” Helphand said. 

Additionally, the ramps leading up to the trail on the day of the race will be manned by volunteers who are essentially “neighbors saying the trail is closed,” Helphand said.

Yet even with these reminders and outreach, Helphand acknowledged that “the day of, there are sure to be people who haven’t heard about.” 

Though it’s being advertised as the 1st annual Bloomingdale Trail Run, whether the event will happen again is to be determined.

“We wanted to get this one under our belts and then make a decision about the future,” O’Boyle said.