[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ilsen’s streets will be filled with the dead on Saturday morning. That’s right the UNO’s 9th Annual Carrera de Los Muertos 5K is expected to have over 5,000 participants run this neighborhood race, which celebrates the vibrancy of the Dia de Los Muertos.
One of the participants in Saturday’s race will be Steven Avalos.
“Six years ago I was 75 pounds heavier. My doctor told me I was at risk for diabetes and heart disease,” said Avalos. “I joined Weight Watchers and started running. At first I couldn’t run a mile. The more I ran, though, the more I fell in love with running.”
The 37-year-old attorney now runs marathons for fun and most recently participated in this year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
“This year was the fourth consecutive year that I ran the Chicago Marathon in 3 hours 48 minutes. The first year I blacked-out at mile 26, and was not allowed to finish the race by medical professionals,” he said. “Now I run smarter, train harder, and listen to my body during the race.”
During the first marathon he ran for UNO he was introduced to and trained by the Venados Running Club, a running club based in the Chicago Pilsen neighborhood that was founded in 1981, as part of a charity run program
“I’ve been training with them ever since,” said Avalos. “Venados provide runners with training programs tailored to the particular runners level. I currently use the Advanced Marathon Runners training program.”
One of the reasons he keeps going back to running marathons is because he says the experience of crossing the finish line is very satisfying.
“Complete strangers are cheering for you for hours, going through all the diverse and beautiful neighborhoods the city has to offer, including one of my favorites, Pilsen,” said Avalos. “And crossing the finish line – there is no high in the world that compares to the euphoric feeling…
Avalos says the only tip he has for people interested in running is to go out and just do it.
“Once you get started, don’t ever stop. You’ll never look back or regret this decision, believe me,” he said.
If you missed your chance to register for the 5k don’t worry, as there will be live entertainment, authentic local cuisine and various children’s activities will also be a part of this community event.
“We are very proud of our heritage and its traditions, which are at the core of this annual celebration. We are also excited to see Carrera de Los Muertos grow each year and remain a vital, cultural component within the Hispanic community,” said Rick Cerda, the chief executive officer of UNO.
The race will kick off at 8 a.m. at Addams/Medill Park, 1301 W. 14th St. All runners will receive a race shirt and medal, with awards presented to the top three male and female winners in their respective age categories. Proceeds from the race will support programs in the arts and culture, as well as health initiatives serving Chicago’s Hispanic community.
Here are some other ways to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos in Pilsen
Compiled by Extra Newspaper
Ele Varte Day of the Dead Processional
Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton St. | 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. | Free
Pilsen arts group EleVarte celebrates Dia De Los Muertos with the 35th annual Muertos de la Risa processional Saturday. Face painting and musical performances begin at 2 p.m. at Dvorak Park and a Recuerda mi Nombre ceremony starts about 4:30 p.m. Saturday. After the ceremony, participants in Day of the Dead-inspired costumes can join in on the 5 p.m. community processional through Pilsen.
Museum Day of the Dead Community Night
The National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. | 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. | Free
The National Museum of Mexican Art hosts a family-friendly Day of the Dead community night with crafts, face painting, family photos and a sugar skull raffle. Guests can make Cempasuchil flowers and view the museum’s Day of the Dead: Rito y Recuerdo exhibition, too.
This post is also available in: Spanish