Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, March 3

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Chicago Mon Apr 14 2014

Inaugural Be The Match Starts Chicago In Right Direction

Finish.jpg It was a blustery spring morning on Saturday as more and more people approached the tent area at Montrose Harbor. The sun was beginning to peak out, and the warmest outdoor temperature since last October put a smile on everyone's face.

In all reality, the weather could have been 40 degrees with rain, but it wouldn't have mattered. A 5K run and 1K walk to benefit finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases was about to start, and the warmth of community and togetherness provided enough energy to power the United Center.

In its inaugural event in Chicago, Be The Match, an organization that for over the past 25 years, has helped countless numbers of individuals find matches from donors, including, according to it's website, 61,000 marrow and cord blood transplants and nearly 6,300 transplants a year. And what better way to help spread awareness of such a program than a healthy stroll on the city's north side.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Mon Mar 31 2014

Spring Officially Arrives With Shamrock Shuffle


"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
― Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

Winters in Chicago are usually pretty rough on anyone, no matter if you've lived here your whole life or if you're a recent transplant. And if there's one thing everyone in this town can agree on, it's that this last winter was by far the worst in recent memory.

Tourists from far out of town or newcomers fresh out of college would ask, "Is it always this bad around here?" The answer inevitably is, "It gets bad, but this is a little out of the ordinary." With record-setting snowfalls, followed by record-setting sub-zero temperatures -- followed by more snow and then more sub-zero temperatures -- it was enough to make the thick-skinned Midwesterner tremble like a newborn fawn.

After being exposed to such atrocities for a few weeks, the thought on everyone's mind after a long commute home became a little more hopeful, "This, too, shall pass. Heck, there's only 47 days left until Opening Day!" Baseball aside, living in this town for at least three years will make the most callous cynic into an ardent optimist, and every year the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle means spring-like weather truly is right around the corner.

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Jim Crago

Events Sun Mar 02 2014

Fallon Brings Star Power to 14th Annual Chicago Polar Plunge

For the 14th annual Chicago Polar Plunge, thousands took to North Avenue Beach to jump in the water, endure the freezing temperatures for moral support, and of course, to watch "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon take on the Polar Plunge challenge.

Photo by Ashlee Rezin for Sun-Times Media

Conditions this morning were less than friendly. At the start of the festivities, the temperature recorded was 9° and felt like -8°. Jimmy picked a frigid season to take on a challenge in Chicago, but it didn't take away from the plunging spirit. More than 3,000 jumpers participated today, according to a Special Olympics Chicago organizer. Despite the freezing weather, there were no signs of negativity on the lakefront. If anything, Fallon's participation in the plunge caused an abundance of excitement, as the crowd broke through the barricade set up on the lake when Jimmy took his dip.

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Rima Mandwee

Events Fri Oct 11 2013

A Runner & Onlooker's Guide to the Chicago Marathon

Chicago_Marathon_Logo.jpgIf you're attending Sunday's Chicago Marathon, it's important to remember two things: to stay safe and have fun.

Both parts are obvious notions. In terms of safety, April's Boston Marathon bombings are undoubtedly hanging over this weekend's events. But you can trust in the increased security presence and the knowledge that most people that attend the marathon are decent folk and moral members of society. It might seem otherwise, but there's a very small percent chance that something bad will happen again. Regardless, it wouldn't be unwise to keep your head on a swivel and to act appropriately if you see something suspicious.

As for the fun part, here are some tips to fully enjoy the marathon.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Tue Oct 08 2013

Rereading Duerson eBook On Eve Of PBS Documentary

Duerson: Triumph, Trauma and Tragedy in the NFL The National Football League has become such a massive, multi-billion dollar marketing freight train over the last decade that none of the other stateside major sports come close. According to CNNMoney, the league is tops in revenue, tipping the scale at a modest $9.5 billion last year, all while showcasing household names like Cutler, Suh and Brady.

It's the sport mom never wanted you to play, worried that her little man would get dinged in the ear hole on a sweep to the right, all while trying to make the cut by making a name for himself. If you took a hard hit and lumbered toward the sideline, you were asked to "shake off the cobwebs" and to get back in the game.

As time went by and science began to catch up with the sport, many surrounding the game discovered that merely shaking off the cobwebs wasn't a cure that could be defined by the New England Journal of Medicine, and instead meant something was very, very wrong with the athlete who suddenly didn't know where he was. Tragically, some of those athletes never recovered after multiple blows to the head and ended up hurting themselves and the ones they loved. Dave Duerson was one of those former athletes.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Thu Oct 03 2013

ESPN GameDay Comes To Northwestern For Battle Against Buckeyes

Northwestern_Wildcats.jpg After defensive lineman Quentin Williams sacked Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell at the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day, January 1, 2013, it sealed the first bowl win in over 60 years for the Northwestern Wildcats and made coach Pat Fitzgerald jump into the arms of a few of his players along the sideline, wiping away tears of joy and purple Gatorade. He had done it -- the former Wildcats linebacker had come back to his academic roots to lead his team to a bowl victory not seen since the Truman administration.

For the next few weeks, proud alumni dusted off their purple scarves, sweaters and ski caps and walked with a little extra giddy-up in their step to work, while flashing a wink and a nod at anyone in orange. Not since the Gary Barnett-led Cats of the mid-1990s has there been this much hype over a Northwestern team that, more times than not, has backed it up on the gridiron.

The offseason came, and with it began more work for coach Fitz in preparation for a follow-up act to the success of 2012 -- certainly a hard act to follow. Eventually, the new season kicked off and the Wildcats jumped to a 4-0 start with wins over Cal, Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine, thus earning rank of sixteenth in the polls. But as in the university's motto, "Quaecumque Sunt Vera," ("Whatsoever things are true"), now begins a stretch run of the truest test of all: games against conference foes from within the Big 10. And at the onset of this tough test is the toughest of them all: the fourth-ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Sep 17 2013

Fishing Along the Walls of Lake Michigan

As the length of daylight shortens from sunrise to sunset by a minute or two each day, so gives way the warmth of summer for the whisk of an autumnal breeze. Aside from dressing a little warmer, mid-September in Chicago means everyone already is complaining about the Bears (or perhaps making Super Bowl plans), the ivy at Wrigley is beginning to turn light brown and the Bulls and Blackhawks are preparing for training camp.

The rough waters that come with being a sports fan in this town, sans the recent success of the Blackhawks, make for a long year, especially as summer comes to an end. But the beginning of fall means the salmon are running to spawn along the rough waters of Lake Michigan, and the breakwalls are lined with those looking to cast and cash in.

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Jim Crago

Boxing Mon Aug 19 2013

Fight Night Comes To Chicago


It had been a little over 50 years since an outdoor boxing event took place on the South side of the city. That was on September 25, 1962, when Sonny Liston won the world heavyweight title by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round. The capacity crowd witnessed what eventually would be a long drought of outdoor boxing for rest of the millennium.

Fast forward to 2013 and with the help of three promoters, Round 3 Productions, 8 Count Productions and Warriors Boxing, you get a decent crowd in U.S. Cellular Field, on a beautiful evening and a solid card.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Jul 30 2013

"Chiditarod" For Kids At Garfield Park

Kiditarod.jpg There's nothing that says fun quite like an Iditarod race in Chicago, aptly named Chiditarod, that requires adults to mush about the city at different checkpoints, all for charity. The race, pageant, talent show and fundraiser helped raise over $34,000 in cash donations while collecting nearly 17,000 pounds of food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository this past March 2, after covering 4.8 miles in the greatest spectacle in shopping cart racing.

But why should the adults have all the fun, running around and acting like kids? It's time for the kids to get involved and show the grown-ups how it's done. On Saturday, August 10, the folks at "Chiditarod" will put on "Kiditarod," a kid-oriented version of the race, at a new interactive festival called Figment, that runs Aug. 10-11 at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jul 24 2013

Blackhawks Announce Panel For Weekend Convention

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For those lucky enough to have a pass to the Blackhawks Convention this weekend (all passes are sold out), it's time to dust off your Stan Mikita jersey and bring an extra bag to store your collectables. The puck drops for the sixth-annual Convention Friday morning at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and will feature many of the members who helped bring home its fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Earlier today the Blackhawks announced the official panels for the Convention, via its site. The bulk of the panels will take place in both the International and Continental Ballrooms with the weekend starting Friday, July 26, at 5:00pm, and the final set of events starting Sunday, July 28, at 9:30am.

If you've been going through withdrawal over not hearing enough Chelsea Dagger, or simply forgot just how handsome Patrick Sharp really is, then load up the family truckster and zip down Michigan Avenue to take in a variety of events, which includes an improv set with members of Second City to re-living the Stanley Cup Final with WGN-TV's Dan Roan. Consider it your own personal Methadone clinic, sure to ease the anxiety away.

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Jim Crago

Boxing Tue Jul 16 2013

Youth Boxing a Knockout with Chicago Park District

Boxing_Ring.jpg Former Chicago Golden Gloves heavyweight champ Thomas Hayes looks on while a group from the Chicago Park District constructs an outdoor boxing ring smack dab in front of the Picasso in Daley Plaza. Sweat drips down his face as the morning sun beats down heavily on his brow while directing traffic and unpacking boxes.

"K.O. Time," as Hayes has been known inside and out of the squared circle, hung up his gloves a few years ago after sweating and beating brows for almost nine. His fighting résumé has him well-traveled along the West Coast and throughout the Midwest, including a WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight shot against Chris Arreola, his second and final loss in 29 fights, all while training under Kevin Rooney.

But before Hayes walked down aisles in arenas, he walked his way to high school at Leo on the south side. One of those trips to school resulted in a gunshot wound from a .22 caliber, which would change the course of his life forever.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Apr 16 2013

Running Into Fear


I've always had a hard time trying to understand what it takes to inflict pain on or wish ill will towards another person. What does it take to psyche yourself up enough to fly a plane into a building, to carelessly shoot at another person, or to plant bombs near the finish line of a marathon? I want to know, but realize I'll never understand.

I think back to when I wrestled in high school: I would visualize wrapping my opponent up like a pretzel until the referee slapped his hand on the mat, declaring me the winner (this rarely happened, but I did have a few wins under my belt). But in the end, we would shake hands in the spirit of competition and go about our separate ways.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Chicago Sun Apr 07 2013

The 2013 Shamrock Shuffle

ShuffleGear.JPG If you've lived in Chicago for at least a couple of years, you've become accustomed to the harsh, cold winters that would make any Canadian tremble with fear. And it's not just the snow and freezing rain that require us to dress with multiple layers for a minimum of six months, but the Hawk wind that whisks in from the north, west and off the lake that has us grinning ear-to-ear in anticipation for the first forty-degree day.

That rodent known as Punxsutawney Phil told us on February 2 that there would be an early spring this year, but as recently as last week, there was no sign of hope for such a promise of warmth that we've longed for after suffering through the darkness of Old Man Winter. That was until I headed over to Navy Pier this past Friday to pick up my packet for the 2013 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.

This was to be my third year running in the unofficial kickoff to the Chicago running season. For the past two months, I bundled up in sweat pants, my DePaul University hooded sweatshirt, wool socks, and Blackhawks ski cap to head out for a Saturday-morning jaunt in preparation for the annual 8K run.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Contest Mon Mar 04 2013

Chiditarod 2013

Gapers Chiidtarod FAV.jpg

Oh, Chicago, we suffer so much through the freezing winter but then March comes along and, although it's still hovering around 30 degrees with a winter storm warning coming along our way for this week, Chiditarod always somehow manages to prove to us all that The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Continue reading this entry »

Kirstie Shanley

Soccer Sun Mar 03 2013

Chicago Soul Nab Playoff Berth in Inaugural Season

ChicagoSoul.pngIn its first ever season, the Chicago Soul (11-15) have clinched a playoff birth in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) tournament after defeating the Syracuse Silver Knights (8-18) by the final of 17-6. Carlos Munoz notched a hat trick in front of a cheering crowd at Sears Centre Arena.

The Soul got the scoring started early and often with a goal by Alex Megson at the 5:52 mark. Four other players found the back of the net throughout the match, which gave the Soul all the confidence it needed to slay the Silver Knights.

"This is the first time in a long time that an expansion team has gone to the playoffs in the first year," Head Coach Novi Marojevic said. "I'm extremely proud."

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Events Fri Feb 15 2013

Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers Go Over the Top Saturday

All alone this Valentine's Day weekend, or looking to do something different with your mate? Then head over to the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd., Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10pm for, and take in some pressed-flesh competition. Tickets are just $25, which gets you in to cheer on the brash beauties of the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers, and offer your future special someone a cocktail at the three-hour open bar ($10 without the drink package). Your heart will throb as you root on the likes of Lumberjack Jill as she looks to defend her title.

Not to mention, a portion of the CLLAW XV proceeds will benefit Girls Rock! Chicago, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering girls' creative expression, positive self-esteem and community awareness through rock music.

While you're there, impress your date and purchase a few CLLAWBUX to offer the referees some "inspiration" in deciding the outcome of your favorite arm wrestler. So whether you're a "Calamity Pain" fan, or want to root on "Bust Your Tooth" Bluth to go all the way, you'll be sure to feel the love from all of these ladies in what's sure to be a fun night of blood, sweat and beers.

Jim Crago

Basketball Fri Jan 25 2013

University of Illinois to Honor Former Hoops Star


Tal Brody has come a long way since his time as a child in 1940s Trenton, NJ. Considered to be Israel's first modern-day sports hero, the former University of Illinois star point guard will have his jersey number (12) raised to the rafters at Assembly Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 13, when the Fighting Illini host the Purdue Boilermakers. The game is set to tip off at 8pm (CST).

Brody will also be honored during the NBA's All-Star weekend in Houston, TX, as he will be inducted into the league's Hall of Fame for international play. Brody was selected 13th overall in the 1965 NBA draft (the old Baltimore Bullets, for those playing at home), but instead decided to stay at U of I to get his master's degree. Brody eventually flew overseas to play for Israel's Maccabi-Tel Aviv, which he led to a second place finish in the European Cup Basketball Championships.

After his basketball career, which included a gold medal in the Maccabiah Games, and officially being named a citizen of Israel, Brody focused his attention on youth basketball programs, including his "Let's Play Basketball" clinic. Brody is also involved philanthropically with Spirit of Israel, which is geared at helping underprivileged children.

You can bet the 6-foot, 1-1/2-inch Brody will be standing even taller with pride on the night of the thirteenth in Champaign. He's still ranked 33rd on Illinois' all-time scoring list, and still lends a hand with outreach programs. Not a bad résumé.

Jim Crago

Chicago Wed Jan 23 2013

Preview: Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers Competition

All alone this Valentine's Day weekend, or looking to do something different with your mate? Then head over to the Logan Square Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10pm, for CLLAW XV, and take in some pressed-flesh competition. Tickets are just $25, which gets you in to cheer on the brash beauties of the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers, and offer your future special someone a cocktail at the three-hour open bar ($10 without the drink package). Your heart will throb as you root on the likes of Lumberjack Jill as she looks to defend her title.


Not to mention, a portion of the CLLAW XV proceeds will benefit Girls Rock! Chicago, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering girls' creative expression, positive self-esteem and community awareness through rock music.

While you're there, impress your date and purchase a few CLLAWBUX to offer the referees some "inspiration" in deciding the outcome of your favorite arm wrestler. So whether you're a "Calamity Pain" fan, or want to root on "Bust Your Tooth" Bluth to go all the way, you'll be sure to feel the love from all of these ladies in what's sure to be a fun night of blood, sweat and beers.

Logan Square Auditorium is located at 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., 2nd floor.

Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Bears Mon Sep 19 2011

Texas Fan Wins Cutler's Football & Country Raffle

Bears QB Jay Cutler's International Football & Country Raffle closed out at noon yesterday. Last night, the winner was announced during Fox's Final Word.

The winner the raffle is Jason M. Parrish of El Paso, Texas. Congratulations, Jason!

Thanks to all of the Bears (and other football) fans who purchased tickets for the Raffle.

The donations will benefit the Jay Cutler Foundation, which helps underprivileged children and children living with diabetes.

For further information about Cutler's Foundation, please visit the Jay Cutler official website.

Margaret Lovell

Bears Sat Sep 10 2011

If You Love Football and Music Concerts, Then Jay Cutler Has a Raffle That Might Interest You

Ever since his days as the Denver Broncos quarterback, Jay Cutler's been actively involved in children's charities.

In 2007, he started The Jay Cutler Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

In 2008, at age 25, Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Doctors informed him that he would need daily insulin shots and would have to alter his lifestyle to accommodate the disease.

So rather than indulge in self-pity, Cutler faced the disease and was determined not to let it interfere with his football career. In the midst of his struggle, he realized that his life was comparatively better off than the children affected with diabetes.

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Margaret Lovell

Roller Derby Tue Mar 08 2011

Don't Play with Your Food

Ah, it's nearly springtime, or what I like to call Spaghetti Wrestling Season. Celebrate with the Chicago Outfit as they hold their 3rd Annual Spaghetti Wrestling event. Expect drink specials, merch for sale, and, of course, derby girls in pasta. The shenanigans take place on Friday, March 11 at Exit (1315 North Ave.). Doors open at 9 p.m. and the wrasslin' begins at 11. Partial proceeds will be donated toward fighting hunger in Chicago.

Kara Luger

Contest Sun Mar 06 2011

Chiditarod 2011

Gapers Chi.jpg

It was noon on a Saturday and the crowd looked at each other expectantly, waiting with baited breath for the sound of the bull horn to signal the start of the race. Despite it being the month of March, winter wasn't giving up and there was a tingling chill and flutters of snowflakes across the cold air. Still, the costumed participants seemed to be too cheerful to notice, to of the moment and just as ephemeral as a fleeting snowflake. The glacial climate was canceled out with a gleeful rush and a promise to enjoy the day, no matter what, because something great was going to happen and all witnesses and racers could feel it down to the tingling of their spines.

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Kirstie Shanley

Cycling Wed Feb 23 2011

Registration for Gapers Block Crits Opens Tomorrow

Big news: CDOT's approved the paperwork, so now we get to race. Thursday, Feb. 24, registration opens up for the week-long Gapers Block criterium series in Calumet Park in southeastside Chicago. The week of racing stretches from March 21 through the 25th. And just like in the past years' iterations, these races are for beginner competitive cyclists who are new to the sport and are looking to get some experience ahead of the spring and summer racing season.

Pre-registration for this low-cost race series is $50 for men and $25 for women for all five days (USAC license required to pre-reg). Day-of registration is a bit more at $20 per male and $10 per female.

Even if you can only race a few days of the series, it is considerably cheaper to pre-reg and get the low price. Many racers did just that, registering for the entire series knowing they would only be able to hit up three or four of the individual races.

The course follows the Calumet Park south loop, a 0.8 mile of flat, smooth pavement with no tricky corners and great sightlines. See the map of the course here.

Nightly race schedule after the jump ...

Continue reading this entry »

Zach Thomas

Events Fri Feb 11 2011

The Electric Car is Reborn

The Chicago Auto Show opened today, and if you head over to McCormick Place, you might notice a change from previous years: those electric cars that had been mere science fiction as recently as last year are now reality.

While few of these cars are actually available for purchase right now, and none of them is available in Illinois at the moment, many have been rolled out somewhere in the U.S., with plans to come to the Chicago area later this year or in 2012. For the most part, these cars are compact hatchbacks with a look reminiscent of the Toyota Prius, but each manufacturer has put its own twist on the car of the future...or, rather, the car of the present.

Ford Focus ElectricThe Ford Focus Electric, which is due out by the end of the year, looks a lot like the standard-model Focus from the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. This all-electric vehicle boasts a 100-mile range, which exceeds many of its competitors. As with EVs, the range varies depending on how the car is driven. Because the Focus Electric's battery gets a boost from regenerative braking, drivers who ease into stops rather than slamming on the brakes will see a boost in range. The car has a "Brake Coach" screen that will help drivers maximize this recaptured energy. While the Focus Electric comes with a 120V plug, installing a 240V charging station will cut charge time from 12-20 hours to 3-4 hours. Ford is working with Best Buy to arrange an affordable charging station installation package for those who want that 240V boost. The car also features seats made of post-industrial materials and bio-based polyurethane cushions, and other parts also utilize recycled materials. Top speed is about 84 mph. No price has been announced.

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Marissa Flaxbart / Comments (2)

Events Thu Jun 03 2010

Get Ready for the Tour de Fat and Track

Oh, yes! Everyone's favorite bike carnival and outdoor drinking exposition, the Tour de Fat, will be coming around to Chicago June 26, only a few short weeks away. Chicago's the first stop for New Belgium Brewing's annual festival of all things two-wheeled and human-powered. The whole thing starts off with a bike parade at 10 a.m. and ends at Palmer Square Park (3100 W. Palmer Boulevard in Logan Square). Last year, there was opportunity a'plenty to ride what could be best described as bike contraptions and enjoy all of New Belgium's adult offerings.

In anticipation, Timothy O'Toole's Pub (622 N. Fairbanks Court) will be hosting a raffle to win a custom Tour de Fat bicycle. Enter to win by buying a pint of New Belgium Fat Tire -- that's all. The contest ends June 25, the eve of the Fat itself.

Tomorrow night is the opening night of Category 5 developmental racing at the Northbrook Velodrome (Meadowhill Park, Northbrook). Registration opens at 6 p.m. and the racing begins at 7 p.m. with USAC, citizens, and junior categories. The track is always entertaining and is genuinely spectator-friendly -- one can see how racing tactics work and see the whole race in its entirety from the stands. Rain cancels -- and with the forecast predicting afternoon thunderstorms, this event could be cancelled. Call 847-291-2985 to confirm before making the drive or train ride up.

Zach Thomas

Slaughter Tue Apr 27 2010

Special Meet and Greet with the Chicago Slaughter

slaughter.jpgHelp keep the Chicago Slaughter (3-3) pumped up after a three game winning streak by heading out the western suburbs for a special meet and greet! Tomorrow evening (April 28) the Chicago Slaughter will mingle with fans and showcase their talent in a special team practice. This event will be held at the Finish Strong Indoor Sportsplex located at 555 W. Roosevelt Road, West Chicago. Food and drink will be served starting at 6:30 pm and practice will begin at 7 pm.

The Slaughter's next home game will be played against the Green Bay Blizzard on Saturday, May 22. Visit for ticket information.

Shanna Quinn

Cycling Fri Feb 12 2010

Gapers Block Crit Series is GO

So, get this... Gapers Block is sponsoring a bike racing series. That's right, everyone's favorite Chicago website is the headline sponsor of a week-long series of criterium races in Calumet Park in southeastside Chicago from March 22-26. Just like last year, these races are for beginner competitive cyclists who are new to the sport and are looking to get some experience ahead of the spring and summer racing season.

Pre-registration for this low-cost race series is $50 for men and $15 for women for all five days (USAC license required to pre-reg). That's right, if you're a woman you can race for $3 a day -- there is no other racing in the area that is that cheap. Day-of registration is a bit more at $20 per male and $10 per female. Even if you can only race a few days of the series, it behooves you to pre-reg and get the good deal. Last year, many racers did just that -- they registered for the entire series as a failsafe, but opted to skip a race when life or fatigue got the better of them.

The course follows the Calumet Park south loop, a .8 mile of flat, smooth pavement with no tricky corners and great sightlines. See the map of the course here.

The nightly race schedule is as follows:

6pm: Registration & course open
6:15pm: Men's 4/5 (beginners) -- 30 min - field limit 50
6:45pm: Women's 3 (intermediate) - 30 min - field limit 50
6:46pm: Women's 4 (beginners) -- 30 min - field limit 50
7:15pm: Men's 4/5 (beginners) - 30 min - field limit 50

Getting to Calumet Park is not very hard by bike -- it's a nice 12 mile ride from the loop -- but by car, it's better to get better directions as most online mapping resources will have drivers geton the Skyway (and spending money on tolls unnecessarily).

Try this instead:

Exit the Dan Ryan !-94 at 63rd (exit 58B), go east on 63rd, south on
King, and take South Chicago Ave. Then left on 95th which leads into the park.

Expect some awesome swag for prizes, maybe some brews, and of course, awesome racing.

See you there.

Zach Thomas

Events Tue Feb 09 2010

Spaghetti + Derby = A Messy Good Time

Like pasta? Love roller girls? Then you're going to love this.

Local roller derby league The Outfit is having their Second Annual Spaghetti Wrestling event on Feburary 19 on the second floor of Exit (1315 W. North Ave). Enjoy drink specials, raffle prizes, and, of course, derby girls wrestling in spaghetti.

The whole shebang kicks off at 11 p.m. There's no cover charge, but the gals appreciate any donations -- proceeds will go toward league expenses for their upcoming 2010 season (which begins April 24) as well as the charity Action Against Hunger in Haiti.

Kara Luger

Events Tue Jan 19 2010

Braving the Cold

The day: January 20. The year: 1985. Temperature: -27 degrees. Wind chill: as low as -93 degrees. The coldest day in Chicago on record, and to celebrate people are dusting off their bikes and pedaling to the office. The Active Transportation Alliance is putting on it's annual Winter Bike to Work Day tomorrow.

For those brave enough to bike in the cold, head over to Active Trans's location at 9 W. Hubbard Street between 6:30 and 9 a.m. for Caribou Coffee and a sweet treat. And don't worry, the weather will be much milder compared to twenty-five years ago.

Vanessa Day / Comments (2)

Events Tue Jan 12 2010

Join the Winter Dance (and Ice Skating) Party

Just because it's cold outside does not mean Chicagoans have to stay indoors.The Chicago Office of Tourism has the perfect solution to cure those winter blues: Chicago Winter Dance in Millennium Park.

That's right, a winter dance party. Starting in February, citizens of Chicago can get their groove on at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with dance lessons in various styles like ballroom, tango, swing, Latin, and many more. Participants can enjoy free lessons from the warmth of the pavilion stage, followed by an open dance where everyone can let loose on the dance floor.

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Vanessa Day

Feature Thu Dec 31 2009

Sit And Deliver

It's New Year's Day, a day filled with bowl games, afternoon NBA games, special NHL contests and the occasional figure skating exhibition extravaganza. But all of those sporting events are meaningless without one thing.
ESPN Zone Ultimate Couch Potato Logo-crop_HIRES.jpg


Yes, it's the fan who makes all of those televised moments possible and meaningful. It's you who plops your holiday derriere into the easy chair and says, "Bring it on." But where's your reward? Where's your acknowledgement of a job well done? Where's your trophy for sitting there and enduring hour and hour of instant replay, telestrators and inane commentary?

At ESPN Zone, that's where. Tomorrow, on New Year's Day, beginning at 10 p.m., ESPN Zone will host its ninth annual Chicago "Ultimate Coach Potato" competition, pitting the best of the best (locally) in, well, sitting and watching sports. For a long time. A very long time.

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Ken Green / Comments (1)

News Fri Oct 23 2009

Short Hops

Ken Green

Events Tue Oct 20 2009

Gale Sayers to be named Humanitarian of the Year

During his time as an NFL running back for the Chicago Bears (1965-1971), Gale Sayers broke records and collected numerous awards and achievements. Rookie of the Year (1965), All Star Game MVP (1967, 1968, 1970), to name a few. Now he can add one more achievement to the list: Humanitarian of the Year Award.

The Abraham Lincoln Centre (ALC) will honor Sayers for his outstanding commitment to helping children and youth. After he retired from football, Sayers founded Crest Computer Supply Company in 1984, and built it into a world-class provider of technology products. Sayers, along with his wife, also became an active philanthropist in Chicago. He supports the Cradle Foundation--an adoption organization in Evanston. More recently he founded the Gale Sayers Center in the neighborhood of Austin, which serves as an after-school program for children ages 8-12 from Chicago's west side and focuses on leadership, tutoring, and mentoring.

Gale Sayers has become a role model for children thanks to his successful NFL career, his professional achievements, and his work in the community. ALC believes his work greatly reflects its goals and commitment to provide promising futures for children and families in Chicago.

The Annual Dinner for Sayers will be held this Friday, October 23, at the Fairmont Hotel (200 N. Columbus Dr.)

Vanessa Day

Events Tue Sep 22 2009

Lunch and Learn--it's Free!

REI wants to educate you on how to get active outdoors, oh, and they want to give you a free lunch from Chipotle. It doesn't get much better than that.

Here's the deal: Throughout the month of October, REI is hosting a Lunch and Learn every Tuesday from noon to 1pm. The sessions start on Oct. 6 and run until Oct. 27. The goal of this program is to help people get out of the office and have fun. Topics for each class range from "Getting Outdoors in the City," to "Quick and Easy Volunteering," from "Introduction to Action Sports," to "Introduction to Winter Sports." Each session will educate Chicagoans on ways to get out there, enjoy the city, and be active.

All it takes is a quick phone call to register for one Lunch and Learn during October. After picking which session to attend, one can then choose a steak, chicken, or veggie burrito for free lunch. The burrito will be waiting for attendees when they arrive at noon.

All sessions will be held at REI Lincoln Park, 2nd Floor Community Room, 1466 N. Halsted St. Call 312-951-6020 to register.

Vanessa Day

Events Fri Sep 18 2009

Viva VaVoom!

super.jpgpoubelles.jpgIt's Friday, you just shut down your computer at work, and the thought of hanging out at the same bar surrounded by the same people just isn't cutting it for you.

You probably need some Lucha VaVoom.

A frothy mix of campy sports, sex and comedy (with some music thrown in for good measure), Lucha VaVoom was born in (East?) L.A. and has been moving across the country with traveling shows that combine a sometimes gender-bending twist on classic Mexican wrestling (lucha libre), burlesque and raunchy standup comedy. And that cultural mash-up will be at the Congress Theater tonight. Doors open at 8:30 and needless to say it's a 17 and over show. Tickets are still available.

Ken Green

Cycling Thu Jul 23 2009

Bicycle Film Festival Schedule Up

Around again for the ninth time this year, the touring Bicycle Film Festival's coming back to Chicago from Tuesday, August 11 to Sunday, August 16 to celebrate and appreciate the velocipede in a variety of films. Judging from past year's content, the topics range from examinations of the messenger scene, reportage of Critical Mass altercations, and the occasional expose on the life of the professional cyclist. A flavor for all points in the cyclist spectrum. Last year's Road to Roubaix was especially good; hopefully, another race-oriented film is in the quiver this year.

The Chicago schedule, available here, doesn't yet list the films to be shown. However, it seems as if a fair number of ancillary events are planned, featuring music at the Metro and Smart Bar, an art show, Goldsprints, and a massive block party on Sunday, August 16.

For a printable tentative schedule, click here.

Zach Thomas

Swimming Wed Jul 08 2009

Last Chance for Chicago Tri

Space is running out to register for the 27th annual Chicago Triathlon held on Sunday, August 30, 2009. While you probably know by now whether you're in good shape to compete in a triathlon (the training program puts my cycling-specific program to shame), if you're into seeing what you can do with a minimum of time, or if you were fence-sitting, now is the time to register.

The international-distance Chicago Triathlon consists of a 1.5-kilometer (.93 mi.) Lake Michigan swim, a 40-kilometer (24.8 mi.) bike on Lake Shore Drive, and a 10-kilometer (6.2 mi.) run along Chicago's lakefront. For those aforementioned fence-sitters and those interested in a shorter test of endurance and will, a "Sprint Distance" race, approximately half the distance of the international distance is the ideal choice.

Register here.

Zach Thomas

Cycling Wed Jul 08 2009

42 Below Sprints

Something of a late notice, but if you have nothing to do tonight from 6-8 p.m. and have an urge to work up a sweat, Moonshine Bar (1824 W. Division) is hosting a Opensprints tournament to celebrate the arrival of the 42Below crowd. Click here for the flyer.

42 Below's mission states "Through our country-wide 42Ride, along with a partnership with the Bicycle Film Festival, we aim to provide bike enthusiasts (21+) with an experience they will never forget and act as a catalyst for cities around the world to improve their bicycle infrastructures, raise bicycle awareness and just plain get with the program."

With their arrival today of the scrum of cyclists, a little something of a sprints tournament will go down. Go! And get sweaty!

Zach Thomas

News Thu Jun 25 2009

Short Hops

  • The Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America is meeting tomorrow to figure out once and for all how they should regard players of the Steroid Era in their future Hall of Fame voting. One Delaware sports writer is urging them to "do the right thing."
  • When the dust clears after tonight's NBA draft, will Kirk Hinrich end up wearing a new uniform?
  • The White Sox youngsters Jayson Nix and Josh Fields made the most of their rare starting assignments.
  • Local Iowa State and Duke basketball fans might have something to do next January 6.
  • The Fire is gearing up for its next match in the Super Liga against fellow MLS club Chivas USA Tuesday at Toyota Park.
  • ChicagoNow blogger Matt Olsen lists 10 Chicago sports surprises that weren't really surprises. Personally, I'd add the continually rising cost projections for hosting the Olympics.
  • It'll be Mark Brown (no, not this Mark Brown) instead of Gonzalo Omar Basile who will take on Fres Oquendo at "Windy City Fight Night 3" this Friday at the UIC Pavilion. On the undercard, Rita "La Guera" Figueroa has a rematch with Tammie "The Tasmanian Devil" Johnson. Man, I love nicknames.
  • Weekend warriors, get caught up with the Chicago Open paintball tournament being held in Bollingbrook.
  • The Chicago Machine hope to end a three-game losing streak when they take on the Washington Bayhawks this Saturday at Toyota Park in Major League Lacrosse action.
  • If you just can't let go of the 1985 Bears, you might have a reason to watch the Cleveland Browns a bit closer this season.
  • The Lou Malnati's Pizza Bronco team does a worst-to-first run in the Wilmette House women's baseball league. Meanwhile, it's the Riveters versus the Skyline and the Comets versus the Turtle Rock in Chicago Gems Women's Baseball League action at Bedford Park Fields.

Ken Green

Cycling Tue Jun 16 2009

Slowing Down and Speeding Up

Continuing this year on its successful 2008 program, the Active Transportation Alliance of Chicago is bringing back its Open Streets Sunday boulevard tour on August 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event this year combines last year's two days into one long, eight-mile avenue of bicycling, dancing, walking, and other activities. The route spans from Logan Square to Little Village, and passes through Humboldt Park, North Lawndale and Garfield Park. Stations and kiosks throughout the route will feature performances, children's activities, art, and workout demonstrations. Cost of entry is free.

The first race of the Soldier Field Cycling series is tomorrow. The showers predicted tomorrow will likely keep things a little on the mellow side, but as so often inevitably happens, the pace will pick up to full-tilt by the time the bell lap is rung. Juniors race for free! And since this race is so close to the Loop, no reason why one cannot stop by to cheer on racers after suffering all day long in the cubicle. More information on the SFC site, or here.

Saturday, WORS #4 Subaru Cup in Wild Rose, Wisconsin will be raging. The MTB course offers lots of terrain, some serious rock gardens, and fast action with great spectating. Register here, but hurry.

And for this Sunday is the Fox River Grove race. With a solid climb to shatter the field, this "crit" is unlike many of the other races here in Chicagoland -- it has terrain. The lighter fellows will likely have less of a problem here than many of the normal crit specialists. Lots of slots remain open.

The TdF is coming! The New Belgium Brewery's Tour de Fat is looking for volunteers for its July 11 event. Please e-mail Ashlee at West Town Bikes for more information or to sign up. The TdF directly benefits West Town Bikes, which develops cycling programs for Chicago youth. Drink beer, do good deeds. It's win-win, here.

Zach Thomas / Comments (1)

News Fri Jun 05 2009

Short Hops

Ken Green

Events Wed Jun 03 2009

Book It! Sports At The Lit Fest

Following the lead of our Gapers Block cohorts over in Book Club, we'd like to give a heads up on a few books and authors Tailgate sports readers might be interested in during this weekend's Printer's Row Lit Fest. Hey, it is legal to do more than just WATCH sports, you know?


Harold Washington Library Multi-purpose Room
1 p.m. "Cubbie Blues"

James Finn Garner, James McArdle, Sara Paretsky, Stuart Shea and Gary moore discuss the new book that documents 100 years of Cub fan frustration (which is becoming a cottage industry). Donald Evans will moderate.

Hotel Blake, Burnham Room
1 p.m. "The Chicago Sports Reader"

Gerald Gems and Steven Reiss, co-editors of "The Chicago Sports Reader: 100 Years of Sports In the Windy City", in a conversation with Tom Lynch.


University Center Park/Fountain Rooms
1 p.m. Sporting Lives

Sports writers Melissa Isaacson, Jonathan Eig and Gary Andrew Poole discuss their craft in a conversation with Dan McGrath.

More details and location information can be found at the Printer's Row Lit Fest website.

Ken Green

Events Sun May 03 2009

Racquetballers to Model Sweatband Fashion, Play Racquetball

This week Navy Pier is playing host to five full days of professional racquetball as the International Racquetball Tour stages its annual Pro National Tournament from Tuesday, May 5 through Saturday, May 9th.

Whether free professional racquetball is worth wading through the tourist throngs at the Pier is debatable. The draws include the fact that play takes place in a clear Lucite box, the players are among the best in the world and racquetball seems to be the only sport in which every player wears throwback headbands.

Also, included in the tournament is Chicagoan - and Lane Tech student - Geoff Goldblatt. He has clawed his way into the top two-hundred players in the country.

Tim Carnahan

News Thu Apr 09 2009

Short Hops

  • The Great Dewayne Wise Experiment is over. Ozzie's going with Chris Getz in the leadoff spot for tonight's game. Getz says he's ready for the change.
  • Bears tracks: Orlando Pace says he came here to play with a winner; Will Cutler fit in with the Bears, and if so, will he be throwing to this guy?
  • ESPN's much-ballyhooed (never thought I'd write that word) Chicagocentric website debuts Monday.
  • If you like your sports bloody and brutal (other than badminton, I mean), you probably already have your tickets to the upcoming World Extreme Cagefighting match at Allstate Arena
  • A Pennsylvania man is biking 840 miles to Chicago to bring awareness to the fight against brain tumors and take part in a special 5K.
  • The Chicago area just missed out on another championship as the Chicago Mission lost in the title game of the USA Hockey Nationals.
  • The first-year Red Stars are looking to succeed where other Chicago soccer franchises have failed and their victory over St. Louis puts then on the right path. You can see for yourself at their home debut on April 19.
  • The Chicago Force kick off their 2009 season this Saturday, April 11, in Iowa vs. the Crush, before returing to North Park University for their home opener April 18 against the Wisconsin Warriors. You can hear head coach John Konecki discuss the upcoming season this Friday on AM 1240 (11 a.m.) and on WJJG-AM 1530 at 4:15 p.m.

    Ken Green

Cycling Wed Apr 01 2009

Ventura Speaks

Few sports other than cycling allow the fan to come intimately close to those at the top of the sport. We've all seen the videos of inebriated cycling fans running alongside the climbers in the Tour de France. During Superweek, some of the nation's fastest riders congregate here and if you're a Cat. 2, or even 3, you've probably rubbed elbows with some of these stallions.

Cycling also has its own legends and fables. Training protocols involving somehow cabbage leaves, fixed gears, and the mysterious supplesse that all cyclists seek like some kind of grail. Mountains and terrain that have brought glory to the son of a farmhand. Much like when Babe Ruth's called out his home run, cycling has its own romanticized vignettes passed down at that piano moment of a group ride or in the parking lot after a race. Maybe half of it is true? Maybe none of it? It's just as much a part of the sport as is shaving legs and Campagnolo.

So sometimes it's nice to hear the juice from the source.

Robbie Ventura, current coach, ex-pro who used to ride on U.S. Postal, and Chicagolander, will be giving a talk April 16th from 7-9 p.m. at the Trek Store in Highland Park (1925 Skokie Valley). Members of the Active Transportation Alliance get in for free, and non-members can join at the door for $25 which will also include admittance. Click here to RSVP.

Additionally, a VIP training session from 6-7 is available, but spots are limited.

Zach Thomas

Kickball Tue Feb 10 2009

New Kickball Documentary

Left Field is a new documentary about "Chicago's unofficial kickball league," an unruly collection of adult teams that invade city parks each summer. The film is screening at Portage Park Theatre, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Feb. 26 -- get your tickets here.

Andrew Huff

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