Carrera de los Muertos returns to Pilsen after 2 years, celebrating its 15th anniversary

By Irvin Ibarra, Staff Reporter

Dressed as skeletons with skull face paintings and sporting bright pink T-shirts, people from across the city gathered in Pilsen for an alternative take on a 5K run.

Carrera de los Muertos, or the Race of the Dead, was one of the many events postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. This past Saturday the event returned to the neighborhood in celebration of the upcoming Día de los Muertos holiday which is celebrated across Latin America from Nov. 1-2.

This year, which celebrates the race’s 15th anniversary in Chicago, saw about 3,000 people participate — varying in running experiences, ages and backgrounds — many gathering at Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Road for the start of the race.

“The energy and the vibe is high,” said Jenille Reid, volunteer check-in coordinator with Pilsen nonprofit United Neighborhood Organization, the organizers of Carrera de los Muertos. “[It’s] very exciting. Everybody seems ready to run, and you have some great vendors out here and some good music.”

The Academy’s soccer field was transformed into a small festival for the finishing race participants, full with vendors selling Mexican food, skulls for Day of the Dead and face painting booths to don the eventgoers’ faces as a calavera.

The practice of painting one’s face as a calavera, or skull painting, represents and honors the memory of the individual’s deceased loved one.

“We enjoy dressing up, and it’s just great for the community and just a wonderful thing,” said Timothy Buidosik, a participant of the run for the last 10 years.

Buidosik wore a black suit accessorized with a skull staff and had his face painted. Another participant wore a quinceañera dress for the run.

“We did this last year, too, and I also did it in a quinceañera dress,” said Noemi Arteaga, participant of Carrera de los Muertos. “It’s really fun because I get to do it with my family.”

Noemi Arteaga, along with their family member Imeldo Arteaga, both said Día de los Muertos is a day to remember their loved ones in a different way, where instead of dwelling on the lost, their legacy and memory is celebrated.

“We have a great time. This is one of those races where you feel like, you know what, this is us,” Imeldo Arteaga said.