MORE HISTORY PACKED INTO THESE 13.1 MILES THAN ANY RACE YOU’LL RUN
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The race takes place on the first Saturday in April and is the premier event in Springfield, IL. This race is absolutely worth making the journey as a runner and avid fan of all things historical. The race directors, Brookelyn and Randi, did a remarkable job of promoting their event on social media. Their marketing efforts were extremely creative, engaging, and humorous.
Like many runners these days, medals are a big factor (like it or not), and their medal was top notch (more on this shortly). The opportunity to tie up my laces and run where Lincoln once walked was too great an opportunity to pass up!
This race is a must on your #50halfmarathons50states challenge bucket list
Miles 1-3: History, History, and More History!
The course starts and finishes at the Old State Capitol where Lincoln gave his famous house divided speech. Across the plaza from the Capitol, within the first quarter-mile of the race are the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices. This is the only building still standing where Lincoln practiced law during his 25-year career. Less than a mile into the race, runners go back in time for two blocks, passing by the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned.
As you make your way back around the bend, you have a perfect view of the New State Capitol.
Miles 4-6: Washington Park
When runners enter the park, they will circle the majority of the park which has 150-acres of rolling terrain, some deep ravines. man-made lagoons, a botanical garden, a large duck pond, and a rose garden. This three-mile stretch was extremely peaceful and calming with not too much undulation.
Miles 7-8: Running through Lincoln, Calhoun, and Rutledge Streets
These two miles take you Northeast through the city as runners make their way toward Lincoln’s Tomb. Supporters are scattered here and there throughout this space, and more than anything, I was excited to make my way to Lincoln’s final resting spot.
Miles 9-11: Lincoln’s Tomb and Lincoln Park
During Mile 9, runners enter Oak Ridge Cemetery (it’s a historical race for a reason) and are able to view Lincoln’s final resting place.
Abraham Lincoln; his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln; and three of their four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas. President Lincoln’s remains rest in a concrete vault ten feet below the marble floor of the burial chamber (yes, I went inside as it’s open to any visitors). A massive granite cenotaph marking the gravesite is flanked by the presidential flag and the flags of states in which Lincoln’s ancestors and Abraham Lincoln himself resided. Crypts in the chamber’s south wall hold the remains of Mary, Edward, Willie, and Tad Lincoln.
Miles 10 and 11 take runners through the Lincoln Park, but I have to say, I was more blown away by Lincoln’s tomb and maybe, kinda, sorta blacked out during these next two miles.
Miles 12, 13, and the Bling!
As I regained more of my memory, I raced toward the homestretch breezing through Mile 12. During the final mile of the race, runners will pass by the historic Union Train station directly adjacent to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library which is just one block from the finish line.
As I crossed the line, state #26 was in the books and runners are rewarded with quite the finishing medal. Any type of interactive medal is a win in my book!
Lastly, make sure you stop by the Buzz Bomb Brewing Company for your free drink… not just because you’ve earned it, but because every single pint I had (which was a few) was amazing. I can’t wait until they are distributed outside of IL…say to Charlotte, NC!
If you’ve never been to Springfield, here are my additional takeaways:
1. Check your flying routes into Springfield – I flew from Charlotte > Dallas > Springfield. It was not the most direct flightpath (clearly), so make sure you plan accordingly depending on where you live. The airport (SPI) is roughly a 15-minute drive to the downtown area which is extremely walkable. While it’s a short distance away, Uber and Lyft are hard to come by and you can easily be waiting 15-20+ minutes for one at the airport or in the city. I stayed at the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield DoubleTree Hotel which was 3 blocks from the start line
2. Packet Pick-Up – The location was in the main ballroom at the DoubleTree hotel. The race shirts were probably the most comfortable shirts I have ever gotten at a half marathon race (mad props to the designer for including thumb holes).
3. Start time was ideal – Bright and early: 7:30 am and runners have 3 hrs 30 mins to complete the race. The weather was windy and chilly so dress appropriately. Your gift bag includes President Lincoln hand gloves along with many other creative goodies. These ladies know what they are doing…
4. Hot spots to visit – Lincoln’s Home (entry into the Lincoln Home is only permitted through a ranger-led tour and tickets are free), old and new state capitols (both are impressive), Lincoln Museum (absolutely a must, especially their presentation rooms), and Lincoln’s Tomb.
5. Hot spots to fill your belly
- Cozy Dog Drive-In – Home of the “Original” hot dog on a stick, dipped in batter and deep-fried
- Saputo’s – a must for Italian lovers! Sit at the bar and do yourself a favor by ordering the escargot, the salad with homemade dressing, and the baked lasagna
- D’Arcy’s – order a horseshoe or a pony shoe (a pony was more than enough). This is the signature open-face sandwich of Springfield, Illinois. The basic version is two pieces of Texas toast with meat placed on each slice, served with either a traditional or spicy white cheese sauce and what seems like a pound of crinkle cut fries
- Buzz Bomb Brewing Company – they were at the packet pickup and they have some of the tastiest beers I’ve had in a long time. You can’t go wrong with any option
6. Fun half marathon fact – The Route du Vin half marathon in Luxembourg can lay claim to being the first half. While it was founded in 1961, the frequently changing course wasn’t exactly 13.1 miles until 1995. The first U.S. halfs came in 1964 with the Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon in Springfield, Illinois and the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware.
To view more Run4Papa photos of this race, go to the 2022 Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon Album