The Beginning of the End of LRC

With all this lonely social distancing running, I’ve been thinking a lot about LRC’s end game. What, did you think something this much fun could go on forever?! That’s cute. No. It was always my intention to disband after 6.66 years of existence – Wednesday, August 19th, 2020. Unfortunately, that may be the next time we get to meet as a group again.

The next chapter will be in your hands. The framework for success is here. I’ve decided to sell the LRC and my services to The Runner’s Edge. While I spend the summer restructuring LRC to fit their needs, I encourage you to create your very own club in your own town!

Trust me, it’s easy. There’s literally no time commitment to this thing. You can form a network of Lake County clubs (they ALL want to work together) to compliment one another, offering group runs and activities on varying days of the week.

Where to start? You’ve got a few more months of quarantine to talk amongst yourselves; someone can revive M.A.R.S. – Mundelein Area Run Syndicate, that we launched in 2018.

MARS artThen, there are plenty of other options:

Don’t want to be confined to one town or one sport? Think big:

You get the idea.

I know this is a hard pill to swallow under quarantine but think of the silver lining: your new run club will always have a band, Cats Are Assholes, that will play for free, even if it is over Zoom conferencing for the foreseeable future.

Thank you all for your participation over the years. Take care, friends!

– Mike Brunette


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LRC Forms Emb”racing” Team


On your mark. Get set. Cuddle!

LRC is about to unleash the most adorable running team on the race circuit. After years of operating a free club catering to runners of all paces and distances, we realized our competitive advantage is the quality of our hugs – like, WAY better than your mom or significant other can provide.

Think you have what it takes to hug unabashedly on the start line, through cheering zones, at the after party… in split shorts? For a one-time $100 fee, your lifetime Emb”racing” Team membership will include:

  • Rad Emb”racing” Team singlet that fits just a little too tight
  • Emb”racing” Team Snuggie for snug hugs on cold days
  • Automatic entry into the Hug Corral at all LRC races/events
  • Year-end male/female age group hug awards
  • Fast times and impressive hugs!

The euphoria from a good embrace is powerful. We will harness this warm fuzzy feeling – widely overlooked by other coaches and racing teams – to help you train, race, and feel your best.

Why compete when we can complete each other, join today! Simply donate $100 (link HERE) with the message, “I like to hug!” and you’re on the team. Applications accepted today only.

Matt and Andy

*disclaimer – while LRC fully supports canoodling, nuzzling, and caressing, the Emb”racing” Team’s mission is strictly to hug ‘n’ run. If interested in progressing past hugs, please attend LRC’s Hookup Wednesday runs.


Past press releases:





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LRC Fifth Year In Review


Speech! Speech! Speech!

Happy Wood Anniversary, LRC! Let’s be honest, LRC wouldn’t be here to celebrate if I had a job, which is to say, LRC wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my wife, Melissa. Without her support and encouragement (and legal prowess and copy editing!), I wouldn’t have the time, energy, or guidance to create and foster LRC (along with the help of Jacki Whitney, Michael Stehling, and Jeremy Bartusch) these past 5 years. Hell, we wouldn’t even be in Libertyville if it weren’t for her taking a job here. Thank you, Melissa!

If you read through the last 4 Year In Reviews (linked below) you’ll see how far we’ve come as a Club, Church, Cult, and Crüe. Year 5, the year of the Circus, built upon many of our traditions yet defied convention as a year of trying new things. So while we kicked 2018 off with our New Year’s Day run to the lake – 18 miles for 2018 – we also started a mysterious club, the first born son of LRC, that same day.


M.A.R.S. was revealed via Instagram with 9 pics in the 9 days leading up to 1/1/18

M.A.R.S. – Mundelein Area Run Syndicate – was a mob-themed, participation only club that met for a 3-mile run and gathering in Mundelein on the 1st of the month. At the final supper, active participants received a bottle of MARS custom-labeled wine and run hosts (Dons, as we called them) received Patagonia flannels with an embroidered MARS logo. Anyone that attended all 12 runs got the flannel with their mob name embroidered on the front. It’s now defunct but maybe it’s time for a sister? 

The 1st mars run

Details of the 1st MARS meeting on a very cold night

We continued our support of local charities with this year’s Poker Run 10K benefitting the United Way’s Center for Excellence in Early Education Program, provided race assistance and fundraising for Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center’s Race to Zero 5K and Lambs Farms’ 5K & 2-Mile Walk, and encouraged donations to the #fudgecancer charity and LRC participants’ marathon charitable fundraising campaigns.

Poker run use

Poker, running, and drinking for a cause

I don’t think there’s a club that travels as much and in such great numbers as we do: 40 of us participated in the Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon to revel in the history of Steve Prefontaine, Nike, and Hayward Field at the University of Oregon campus. A few dozen of us made the pilgrimage to the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll for the Memphis Marathon and Half Marathon. There were several other trips of about a dozen or more LRC folks, while small to us, would be admirable participation by any club’s definition. 


LRC on the Prefontaine Trail near the University of Oregon Campus

Stumbling Santas

The Memphis Trip on a Stumbling Santas Bar Crawl

Speaking of Prefontaine and trying new things, our Prefontaine Fun Run this year finished with a showing of the movie Prefontaine (the better one with Jared Leto!) on the big screen at Liberty Theater. From here, we kicked off our 5th year of track workouts at Libertyville High School. For this year’s registration “fee,” you sent their facilities coordinator John into retirement with hundreds of meaningful handwritten letters about how important the track access they grant LRC is to you. He was touched.

Through our connections, we obtained one of 6 coveted running chair entries into the Chicago Marathon so that Dan Riefenberg could push Patti Greer in the Hoyt Running Purple Pickle chair that we purchased for her.

Special Olympics at the 2018 Chicago Marathon

Patti and Dan on the Chicago Marathon course

I have been in bands my whole life and a lot of what we do with the art and swag in LRC is derived from my experience in the music industry. After talking about starting a LRC band for years, we assembled Cats Are Assholes! – The LRC Band to perform at Patti Greer’s 50th birthday party. All songs were picked by Patti with Ludacris’s rap in Champion by Carrie Underwood being re-written and sung to honor her:


Mike’s re-written rap to honor Patti

Cats Are Assholes! continued to perform at our Anywhere But Here Brewery Tour and Run of the Dead Elimination Run. We welcomed other musically inclined runners on stage to take part in a song or two, going so far as to form a kids’ band, Kittens Are the Worst! (comprised of our “litter”) to perform at our anniversary party with the Cats.


One of the Cats Are Assholes! first practices


The Kittens Are the Worst! first performance

Run of the Dead’s 4th year was its most successful to date: 370 runners, 11 states represented, largest and most enthusiastic volunteer base, and the most ambitions swag offerings we’ve done. The race has garnered a lot of attention and is now in the process of being duplicated by our friends at Shoes n’ Brews in Longmont, CO.

RotD Hill Volunteers.jpg

Run of the Dead’s spirited top of the hill volunteers braving the wind and cold

In 5 years, I’ve seen many accomplishments from PRs to Age Group wins that we’ve achieved not by marketing ourselves as a racing team, but by putting the relationship-building at the forefront which in turn provided the means and inspiration to become better runners, lifelong friends, and community advocates.

Cheers LRC, let’s do it again!

– Mike Brunette


LRC Fourth Year In Review

LRC Third Year In Review

LRC Second Year In Review

LRC First Year In Review



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LRC to Open a Microbrewery Tap Room!


The Brunettes in front of Bruskis’ Beer Bazaar location to open in Libertyville, Summer 2018!

The LRC is finally getting a clubhouse! With nearly 5 years of building this running community and the unfortunate (but timely) closure of Mischief’s Brewing Coffee & Tea Shoppe located at 725 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville, it’s time to take our next step. After bringing the LRC back there for our Saturday morning runs and speaking with the proprietors of Mischief’s Brewing about the space, we finalized our business plan and put a bid in for the lease.

Situated next to the Libertyville Metra station, this location is prime for a tap room that will feature food trucks on the weekend and, of course, play host to our group runs. The LRC community we fostered, combined with Libertyville’s lively dining scene and the foot traffic from the train station, will be vital to our success.

The unconventional way I’ve been operating the LRC as more of a social gathering and exploratory venture rather than a traditional training-focused club has been leading up to this. While profiting from the Club itself was never my intention, my endgame was to create a retail space where we could gather and which would feature talents from within the LRC and the people and places we’ve been highlighting.


The Prairie Krafts Brewing Co. stop of the 2017 LRC brewery fun runs tour

We moved to Libertyville almost 5 years ago with a plan to open a running retail store with in-house brewery. In addition to possessing business acumen as a lawyer and accountant/financial advisor, we also have a strong background in running retail experience and assisting friends and partners open their local businesses (Taco in a BagOne Trick Pony Brewery, and Alarmist Brewing), so I figured I would combine my passion for running with my love and interest for craft beer.

Things got a bit more serious after we took the LRC on our first Colorado running trip a few years back mostly to visit a running store with in-house brewery I learned had just opened in 2015, Shoes & Brews – the first of its kind in the country.


The 1st of 2 LRC trips to Shoes & Brews (July 2015)

Facing non-compete agreements and a sea change in the running retail industry, we backed off the running retail store idea. We began looking for a LRC clubhouse to lease then, seeing as how the size of our fun runs was getting too big to handle for some establishments, our focus shifted to opening a brewery tap room.

Like the beers we’ll make, this concept has been meticulously orchestrated and brewing for a long time. For the past 9 years, we have been traveling the U.S. while I not only run a marathon in every state but visit and take careful notes of every local brewery we visited (258 to date!), many of which are featured in my A Bear On the Run blog.

Through many conversations with brewery owners, brewers, and staff around the country, as well as entrepreneurs, home-brew friends, and the experience and relationships made through the community-building that is the cornerstone of Libertyville Running Club, the ability to strike when an opportunity arose was possible.

Bruskis’ Beer Bazaar is derived from “Brunette” and Melissa’s maiden name, “Gadowski.” Our “bazaar” will offer goods from local artists and purveyors of foodstuffs, and the name also reflects the spirit of the charitable work we’ve done with the LRC, which we will continue by donating a portion of all beer sales to featured local charities.

We purchased tanks from our friends at Flossmoor Station Brewery and construction has begun on what we anticipate to be a 2-3 month buildout. We are please to have my high school buddy, Ryan Buchmeier, on board as head brewer. Ryan is a building contractor, owner of 2 Bones BBQ (the guys we use every year for our Run of the Dead event), and my homebrewing partner since 2001. We’ve been testing our recipes on the equipment and intend to be ready with 6 beers on tap when we open this summer.


Me and Ryan and the beards, soon to bring you some tasty brews

chalkboard tap list

What will be available on opening day

To follow along with our progress, like our Facebook page HERE.


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LRC Fourth Year In Review

I usually get bored with things after 3 years so it’s telling when I’m more excited about something than when it first began. For things that keep getting better, LRC is in rare company with Melissa (how’s that for kissing up to the HBIC?), leaving the workforce 5 years ago, and maybe Mars – my oldest son. Yes, I, too, have my days as a stay-at-home dad where I just want to lock myself in a closet.

4 years ago, I didn’t know how the LRC would evolve but I had an idea of what it should be and in the beginning, I felt alone in explaining those seemingly foreign concepts to runners: you can have fun and still become better runners, you can associate with runners that aren’t your speed, or running your distance, and together we can achieve our running and fitness goals in tandem with making a positive impact in our community. I no longer feel alone in believing and sharing those mantras.

Poker run fun runners WITH INSET no text

For our Poker Run’s 2nd year, we made it Patti’s Poker Run 10K – all proceeds went to her family

It’s that unified belief that really came together this year and made for some incredible and inspiring times without which, we would be just another run club that I would have grown tired of after 3 years. And what good is a leader if that leader isn’t passionate about what they’re doing? Most importantly, your collective belief in LRC, your passion and excitement for what we do, and the initiatives many of you took to help us do what we do, have made this year truly special. I would especially like to thank Jacki, Michael, and Jeremy for taking on some of my responsibilities. Just look at some of these Year 4 highlights:

  • Trail running field trips
  • LRC race trips to New Orleans, Fargo, Erie, Sioux Falls, San Antonio, and others
  • Patti’s Poker Run 10K & Greer Mile raising ALS awareness and netting over $10,000 toward her medical expenses and custom running chair
  • Free cross training and other events at various businesses
  • Pushing and celebrating Patti Greer in her 1st marathon at the Kenosha, WI marathon
  • Annual Prefontaine Fun Run
  • Libertyville Days parade participants
  • Several volunteer aid stations at local races and the critically acclaimed and impossible-to-duplicate Mile 23 Chicago Marathon cheer station
  • Track workouts for over 200 runners that directed all $9,000 in “fees” to charities for LRC runners raising money for their Chicago Marathon bibs
  • Inaugural 2-hour Team Relay Competition at LHS track and an inaugural free 5K
  • A wildly successful South of Heaven breweries and running tour that saw 85-90 runners showing up to each of the 6 Wednesday night stops
  • Dan’s 126.2-mile Hennepin Hundred to Chicago Marathon weekend raising ALS awareness and $6,000 toward Patti Greer’s new accessible van purchase
  • Our Run of the Dead Elimination Run was more successful than ever
  • Our Annual Cross Country Challenge benefiting Libertyville Township Food Pantry
  • The LRC Made Me Do It #givingtuesday event netting $6,000 for charities
  • Themed runs and BBQ runs throughout the year hosted by many of you – opening your homes to all of the LRC
  • The largest Toys for Tots Fun Run we’ve had to date
  • Millions of smiles, tears, hugs, high-fives and feel-good vibes

That’s over $40,000 that we have contributed to charitable causes! And that doesn’t include the money you’ve donated to LRC itself, without which we couldn’t operate at all. We’re a free club, and we’ll always be a free club, but what we do and what we offer isn’t free – rentals, insurance, corporate filings, tour & Prefontaine shirts, magnets, headbands, party expenses, and various other LRC giveaways. You make that happen. I’m in awe and speechless, really. Thank you for participating beyond the run.

We are bigger than a “run club.”

2017 TFT group pic with inset

4th Annual Toys for Tots Fun Run with an inset picture of the toys we delivered

I like to believe that not having a rigid plan and our creativity are our greatest advantages. Sure, we have all the tools for the serious runner: coached track workouts, custom training plans for half marathons and marathons, experience and motivation galore… but we can also decide to do something completely different and weird at the spur of the moment and watch as that idea ripples through the community.

LRC is no longer the new kid on the block; we’re setting precedent for new and established area run clubs, race directors, and local businesses. Just take a look around and see how many of them are starting to do some of the things and events we’ve been doing all along. That’s been part of my master plan from the beginning – to enhance our communities just by being who we are and setting the example for everyone else.

4 years in and I would give LRC 4 out of 5 stars. That’s pretty good! And I know we’ll do better. Cheers to all of you, and see you in 2018!

– Mike Brunette

Michael and Mike doing Stehlings

And may the Stehling hand gesture continue to show up in all your race photos!

LRC Third Year In Review

LRC Second Year In Review

LRC First Year In Review





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Meet the LRC – Patti Greer Spotlight 2017


Patti with sons Matthew (7 years old) & Jackson (10 years old)

Patti Greer (from Gurnee) stumbled on LRC’s Facebook page two years ago. She was pleased to find a club that encouraged everyone to run regardless of ability or goals, pace or distance. Along the trails and roads we run, Patti discovered a wealth of new friendships. She volunteered at several events, including Run of the Dead, cheering for people doing something she loves and witnessing them fall in love with ultra running. She took pride in LRC’s support for one another and its community. Little did she know that she would someday be a recipient of our support.

Patti was recently diagnosed with amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes the loss of voluntary muscle control and is ultimately fatal – there is no cure.

Until her diagnosis, Patti was living a very active life in her 40s: She took Shotokan Karate lessons to understand and help direct Jackson with his karate (she ranked more than halfway to black belt), was a Boy Scout leader and loved camping, continued to ice skate with all her spins and axels, took ballet and performed for a local dance theatre… All things she didn’t have the opportunity to do while growing up in a household with 10 children.

Running was Patti’s drug. It was something she could do with both her boys: her son Matthew prefers shorter distances, like the Gurnee Days’ 2-miler, and Jackson frequently accompanied mom on LRC runs. One of Patti’s favorite routes is our Touch the Lake run – a 14-mile round trip run from Libertyville to Lake Bluff beach and back. Her first attempt on August 22, 2015 was thwarted by a fall she assumed was just due to her being clumsy. That fall, however, bookmarks this new chapter of her life.

After taking some time off to heal, she joined us 6 months later to complete that run to the lake. Her speed wasn’t there but she finished. A few weeks later Jackson joined her for 13 miles during our 2016 Paczki Day run. Shortly after, she began having foot and hip pain on the right side that progressed to limping.

Through the summer of 2016, Patti’s equilibrium began to fail and she had to think about coordinating her right leg to run, then walk. A chiropractor urged her to get a MRI and EMG. A series of therapist and doctor visits led her to a neurologist that concluded she was experiencing symptoms of ALS. A second opinion confirmed she was in its early stages.

On October 20th, 2016, Patti began using a cane and in November, traded the cane for a wheeled walker. Routines she once took for granted had become difficult. She was falling down often. Fatigue set in quickly. In an effort to help her expend less muscle energy, adjustments are being made to her home. The seemingly quick progression of these limitations leave her and her husband, Steve, breathless at how fast this disease can strip someone of their body.


Patti and the Crüe at our 2016 Toys for Tots Fun Run

Patti is seeing a therapist 2 days a week and taking a supplement, not currently covered by insurance, that has shown signs of slowing the disease for 70% of its users, and she is hoping to qualify for a new clinical trial. She and Steve are planning for her inevitable future needs, which include a powered wheelchair, transport, and various other home modifications.

Patti continues to work as a nurse practitioner at the Navy base. They have been wonderful in accommodating her. Her family is struggling to figure out what the future holds. Steve desperately searches for a cure. It kills him to see Patti struggle to do the things she once did effortlessly. Jackson prays for his mom to get better, while Matthew is a bit young to understand the gravity of the situation. Everyone is hopeful for a new medication or therapy that will slow or cure this disease.

She’s gracious for all the amazing people helping her and her family adjust. However, these changes are not easy for Patti; ALS is slowly stripping her of her independence, her wifehood, and her ability to be a great mom. Her new “normal” is always changing, but her outlook and optimism are not. Patti knows there is a new medication or therapy around the corner that will slow or even stop ALS, and she can’t wait for it!

She misses running desperately, from the breeze on her face to the endorphins after finishing a run, to setting and surpassing new goals. She misses running with Jackson. Luckily, although she isn’t able to run with the LRC Crue, we can still bring the Crue to her in the following ways:

  1. We are dedicating our annual Charity Poker Run 10K to Patti this coming April 15th. Details and registration link HERE.
  2. We organized a relay team to push Patti for her first marathon in Kenosha on May 6th. A Facebook event page with more details will be posted soon.

Mark your calendars to come out, show Patti your love and support, and contribute to helping stop this disease from taking more of her life.


Chris Ankeny and Patti arrr full of zest





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LRC Third Year in Review


What’s not to love about this group?!

What is a running club? Moreover, what is the goal of a running club? For 3 years now, the LRC has set out to redefine what one is and what it can do. At our core, we provide runners with the means to achieve their goals by hosting 2-3 weekly group runs year-round, offering tempo, speed, and hill workouts when our custom training plans call for them. A mix of those services are going to be available in any running club. Consistency works.

But the manner in which we do these things is unorthodox.

Many clubs are tethered to the notion that their routes and activities must be sanctioned by governing bodies like Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) or their own superfluous board of directors. We set our own rules. We like to explore – we’ve run hundreds of different route maps from various locations in these 3 years. Variety is a good thing.


The Candy Cane Fun Run map – one of our proprietary maps

We offer half marathon/marathon training in the spring and fall but training for one of those races is not a requirement to come out and run. If you like to run 3 miles with a group of friends (or strangers), you can do that here. We do not use pace groups because of the cliquey environment they foster. We run roads. We run trails. Acceptance of all types of runners is paramount. We recognize that if you’re out there moving, you’re a runner.


Oh, and the fun runs we have… Have you been part of a running club that toured surrounding towns to explore their running trails and breweries and commemorated it with tour lanyards and shirts? Have you ever tried a Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure-themed scavenger run? What about a festive holiday run like our Candy Cane Fun Run or Halloween run or Festivus run, or the Stop-LRC Prefontaine Fun Run (mustaches provided if you can’t grow one), or our Poker Run 10K, or an elimination run like Run of the Dead, or… Well, you get the point. Ingenuity sets us apart.


Trish and Sinee volunteering at a Poker Run 10K stop

Social media is essential nowadays and we are voracious. We use art to express who we are; it helps that our graphic designer is a runner. We can be serious runners without taking ourselves too seriously. Are we a Church or Cult? Neither, but I suppose we have elements of both; what started out as a joke has come to define us. Our creativity reigns supreme.


Where LRC really differs is with its community involvement. After every run we rendezvous at a different local business, in part to fraternize and in part to support them. We want to help you discover a new date night restaurant, great local breweries, a place to buy your homebrew supplies, or the best independent coffee shops. Small Business Saturday? Try small business everyday.


One of six stops for our Righteously Nefarious tour

We strive to inspire you to support those within our community that need our help. Through running events, in just this past year we assisted some great organizations that are hyperlocal: Lambs FarmLake County Haven, Placing Paws, Libertyville Food PantryNational Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to name just a few. Also, in lieu of requiring $25 – $50 to “join” a running club, we thought rewarding you with a LRC Righteous long-sleeve running shirt for donating $25+ to your favorite charity on #givingtuesday was a better use of everyone’s funds. Now that’s righteous! For the LRC’s own expenses (funding all this great programming), we only accept donations of whatever amount you think being a member is worth and you can afford.


LRC’s 3rd Annual Toys for Tots Fun Run/Walk

LRC’s service and social events aide in making better runners, and just as importantly, citizens of our community. You would be hard-pressed to find any LRC members that haven’t achieved a personal best in the past 3 years. The friendships forged are beautiful. The support network is incredible. Your community advocacy is unparalleled. So congratulations everyone, you are part of the most righteous running club in town! If you’re merely an observer, let’s see if we can push you into the participant column in this next year. If nothing else, it won’t cost you a thing.

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Meet the LRC – December Member Spotlight 2016

Mel 2

Melissa smiling or grimacing, all these years and I still can’t decipher.

As year three of the Libertyville Running Club comes to a close, it’s time we highlight Melissa Brunette, the Great and Powerful Oz herself, in this final Monthly Member Spotlight.

Many of you know her, many of you do not. It’s difficult for her to be around the LRC as often as she would like given that I’m around the LRC as often as I like. She will do the occasional group run and 5K and has run a half marathon. She joined the SEDOL board this year and was integral in raising over $6,000 via the LRC network for their Making Strides for Kids 5K, accounting for 1/4 of the total funds raised from the event. What few of you know is the extent to which she is involved in ensuring the LRC’s success. In fact, she is the reason there is a Libertyville Running Club to begin with.

I met Melissa in Chicago while she was working for a large law firm, one that ensures your life IS work until you want something more. After a few years of dating, she found something more (shameless plug – ME!) so she left the firm for a position in Libertyville that offered a more reasonable work-life balance.

Melissa’s mom was in the army. Though she was born in Colorado Springs and called it home for her teenage years, she spent most of her early life inhabiting various military towns in the U.S. & Europe. College, then law school, brought her to Massachusetts, then Illinois, where she ultimately settled. Melissa knew nothing about the north suburbs but loved her new company. Unfortunately, it came with a 125-mile round trip commute.

For four years, she commuted to Libertyville while we settled into our home in Flossmoor, a south suburb of Chicago. We loved it: our friends were there, my family was there (my sister lived down the street from us and my parents worked within a few miles of our house), and I started a running club with the goal of opening a running store in town…

Then we had Mars. Her commute didn’t allow for much time with him given that he was asleep when she left for work and asleep when she returned home. The only solution was to move closer to her office. Libertyville had everything we wanted: a vibrant downtown, running trails, and seemingly good people (this has since been confirmed).

We would have to leave the club I started yet Melissa was confident that I could create it again. In my mind, Libertyville was top choice given its lack of a running club. “How could this town have a running store but no running club?”, I questioned. To my chagrin, I discovered that answer after working there.

Fast forward to today, 3 years and 3 months later. Melissa is my copy editor for much of my writing (these articles included, except this one – she doesn’t know about this one). She’s our skilled corporate attorney that navigated the incorporation rules, trademark stuff, and all the liability and insurance details I don’t like concerning myself with but must. She listens to me ruminate about all things LRC daily and offers a lot of great suggestions.

As we reflect on 2016, look to the year ahead, and continue to give thanks for all that we’re thankful for, let’s celebrate Melissa: the reason the LRC exists, the reason our community is a little brighter, and the reason so many of us have become great friends.

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Meet the LRC – November Member Spotlight 2016


Kiko, with Mila and Nicole, running the LRC hill workout

Meet Kiko, possibly your next running buddy.

Kiko’s foster mom, Nicole Quigley, has been fostering him for 8 months from Placing Paws  – a Libertyville-based rescue group that takes cats and dogs from rural shelters with high euthanasia rates. With no physical location for their animals, they rely on folks like Nicole that will care for them until they can be placed in their furever home.

Kiko came to the rescue the same way many animals often do, he was purchased from someone for his looks that ended up not knowing much about how to care for him. Unfortunately, he spent most of his days in a crate in the garage before being given up to a shelter.

Since living with Nicole and her mastiffs, Kiko has been given a chance to fully embrace the dog life. He is a high-energy dog with an obsession for playing fetch. Kiko is a great running mate with a love for trails and cool morning runs. He’s got a 7-mile distance PR but Nicole knows he can shatter that. Kiko joined the LRC for one of our hill workouts and showed us all he’s got what it takes to tackle a What-the-Hell-Does-Mike-Brunette-Know training plan.

Nicole’s mastiffs are older dogs and though they don’t have the energy to keep up with Kiko, they get along swimmingly. Nicole thinks he would be best suited in a home with older kids because of his energy and size (70lbs). He hasn’t lived with any cats but he sure is intrigued by them. Nicole has taught him some manners – he’s a chewer of toys and rawhide but leaves her shoes and furniture alone – and sit, stay, down, shake, and leave it are now commands he follows.

Much like us runners on a run, he has a sensitive stomach, which is common with the pit bull terrier breed. He will occasionally counter surf for food Nicole may have left out but he’s always content with a bone of any variety.

While Nicole is at work, Kiko often spends his days at K-9 Playtime in Mundelein. They are very supportive of the mission of foster families and offer free daycare to all dogs fostered through Placing Paws! Here he has the opportunity to get all his energy out before going home to chill on the couch.

Thank you to Nicole and others like her that are happy to foster these animals until they find their furever families. It is our hope that people will stop buying pets from puppy mills and breeders and instead look to animal rescues like Placing Paws for their next pet. If you’re interested in Kiko, know someone who may be, or would like more info about or to donate to area shelters, below are some links to a couple Libertyville organizations we have great experience with.

Placing Paws site HERE.

Orphans of the Storm site HERE.

The Libertyville Running Club will be making a donation to both of these organizations based on the number of runners that attend our annual Run of the Dogs fun run at the end of November – an event we started last year to honor the loss of Dixie (read that article HERE) and all of the dogs & cats we’ve lost after having the pleasure of their company as family members. Details of this run will be announced on our Facebook group page soon.

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Meet the LRC – October Member Spotlight 2016



Dan Riefenberg with crew & pacer extraordinaire, Jen Wierzba

Meet Dan, he’s a bit nuts. This is a common trait among the successful ultrarunner. How else do you explain someone who pushes themselves to run so far, for so long, often times in dangerous conditions? In other words, Dan – like so many others – possesses a drive to explore the limits of his physical and mental capabilities. As many of you know, it’s often the mental challenge that defeats us.

Running a marathon was a bucket list item for Dan; in 2006, he accomplished this in Florence, Italy as a fundraiser for the AIDS Foundation. His crazy reveals itself here when I tell you that he had only run as far as an 8K in training. After years of spectating the Chicago Marathon, he finally ran it (a bit more trained than the Florence race) in 2013 & 2014 – accomplishing his goal of running a 4-hour marathon.

He needed a new goal, so in 2015 he set out to qualify for the Boston Marathon and discovered the Libertyville Running Club on Meetup (yes, in the early days LRC had a account). Tired of doing his winter long runs on the treadmill, he made the trip to Libertyville from Fox River Grove (a 35-minute drive on a good day) for some company and discovered a gaggle of runners just as crazy as himself. He knew then that this was going to be a great group to be around. The LRC helped him trim 50 minutes off his previous marathon time!

Narrowly missing a Boston qualifying time in 2015, he went back to the Illinois Marathon in 2016 and accomplished a qualifying time of 3:09:49 only to discover this past week that it wasn’t enough – the 2017 Boston qualifying time is 2 minutes and 9 seconds under his age group’s 3:10:00 qualifying standard. In the days after the Illinois Marathon, he searched for a different kind of challenge.

He was running about 50 miles a week and decided to attempt one of the hardest 100-mile races out there: the Ouray 100 Mile Endurance Run – a trail race in southwest Colorado with 42,000ft of gain over an elevation range of 7,600ft – 13,400ft. Dan hadn’t run on a trail yet. To remedy that, he signed up for and finished his first ultra and trail race, the Kettle 100K in 8th place! Though this gave him the confidence to attempt Ouray in August, he still had to fine-tune his training and tackle it at elevation, something he couldn’t train for in the midwest.

All the articles and YouTube videos about ultrarunning can’t replace the insight you’ll get from completing the ultra yourself. He discovered that not overthinking or overtraining played to his advantage. After Kettle, Dan realized that running hill workouts and higher mileage helped. Now he would add a few runs in the dark and a 30-miler. Much like the struggle one feels around mile 20 in a marathon, Dan notes that miles 30 – 35 in an ultra are similarly difficult. The night running can be exhilarating but navigating the dangers of what lurks just beyond the illumination of your headlamp takes some getting used to. This is where your pacer or teaming up with another runner will be beneficial.

The Ouray 100 ended up throwing everything at Dan: cold, rain, darkness, loneliness, sleep deprivation, elevation extremes. At around mile 75, after 36 hours of running, he was ready to give up. He had gotten lost several times, he was wet and shivering in the night looking for the path down the mountain. This is another point at which your crew and pacers are important; Jen Wierzba saw to his every need throughout the race and convinced him to keep going. Having someone to tell you to eat and drink and chat with will keep you from having those Tom Hanks / Wilson moments from the movie Cast Away.

He did it in just over 50 hours! Dan was one of only 5 out of 30 people to complete the race. Now he wanted to earn enough points to enter the lottery for the 2017 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 100-mile race in the Alps and enter the lottery for the 2017 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in California. So just 6 weeks after completing the Ouray 100, he ran the Mark Twain 100-Mile Race in 26 hours (2nd place overall) after falling, injuring his knee 4 miles in, and leading the race for 69 miles! Throw in lottery attempts for the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run, the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run, and sub-3 hour marathon and sub-24 hour 100-mile goals, and Dan has a pretty ambitious 2017.

Dan hopes this will inspire and motivate all of you getting into ultrarunning and/or running the Hennepin 100 races this weekend. Eat what you crave at those glorious ultra aid stations, enjoy your surroundings, appreciate your crew and pacers, and push beyond where your mind tells you to quit. Good luck ultrarunners-in-the-making!







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