The legend lives among the shadows and shrills in the woods of Red Oak Nature Center, where soon (with a lil’ imagination) the rumored sightings and foggy footage will be replaced by real encounters.

“So run!” says Renee Oakley, facility manager at Red Oak. “You’re about to take a turn into the woods and enter prime Bigfoot habitat. Through woods, past prairies and along the river … if you’re an adventure-seeker, this is your event.”

Designed for serious racers, to running enthusiasts, to leisure lappers, the Fox Valley Park District’s inaugural Bigfoot Trail Run 5K is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, September 30 at Red Oak. Pre- and post-race activities, along with the start/finish line, will be headquartered at The Wilds – the District’s charming three-season education and events facility which opened last spring.

Cost of the race is $35 and online registration remains open through September 28. Participants will receive a T-shirt (if registered by 10 p.m. Thursday, September 21), a commemorative medal, and chip-timed results. Day-of registration ($40) will be accepted, though race officials encourage participants to register online to avoid (and minimize) race-day lines.

Additional info:

  • The Wilds at Red Oak is located at 1400 N. River Rd. (Rte. 25) in North Aurora. The parking lot is a quarter-mile north of the main Red Oak Nature Center entrance on the west side of Rte. 25.
  • Packet pickup will be held from 4-7 p.m. Friday, September 29, at The Wilds.
  • All runners must check in the morning of the race; check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.
  • Runners and spectators are invited to post-race festivities with snacks, refreshments and an assortment of yard games to play on the outside patio.

“We thought it would be fun to showcase Red Oak with a really unique event, and the Bigfoot 5K checks off a lot of the property’s natural amenities,” says Mark Macek, athletics program supervisor at Vaughan Athletic Center and Bigfoot 5K coordinator.

The race features a 3.1 mile course across several terrains, including asphalt trails, mulched paths, and even some stairs.

“It’s a unique course in that runners are going to get to do some ‘off-roading,’” says Macek, noting that strollers are prohibited during the race. “But it has a rhyme to it, a pathway that makes sense, because it showcases what’s behind Red Oak’s paved paths and makes for an even more scenic route along hidden trails that people may not know exist.”

The entirety of the course runs in a general loop (with a few twists and turns) along the Fox River Trail and on adjacent terrain on the east bank of the river.

Runners will navigate through some of Red Oak’s popular areas for hiking and exploration, like Coyote Grasslands Spur, Blue Sky Prairie, and Big Turtle Trail.

Mounted monitors inside The Wilds will display finishing times in real time for runners to check results.

“We want this to be a memorable morning for all participants, no matter their individual goals,” Macek says. “The race is conducive to all experience levels and the unique course with incredible scenery from start to finish only adds to the experience.”