While those who ran the Chicago Marathon are likely feeling the aftereffects of their efforts, others are gearing up for the marathon Nov. 10 here in Naperville.
Personally, I am very excited about the arrival of a full and half marathon to Naperville. After years of schlepping to Chicago to run, I love the idea of not only bringing the race to our community but the dollars and tourists as well.
On Nov. 10, novice and seasoned runners alike will cue up for the first Naperville full and half marathon. The race will start and finish at the North Central College athletic complex. With a great mix of paved streets, forest preserve and neighborhoods for runners, this route is sure to be memorable.
According to Craig Bixler, co-director of Naperville Marathon races, plans are on schedule.
“All of the details that go into creating an event of this magnitude have been moving steadily forward, and as we hit crunch time this month, we are closing out many of the early action items,” he said.
Since the Boston Marathon tragedy, safety has become more of a concern for observers as well as runners of all races of this type. Bixler assured me that security is a high priority for all, and that everyone involved in the event will feel comfortable (if slightly inconvenienced) by the access restrictions that will be put in place to manage the expected crowds and create a safe environment.
Beyond just the run, there are some great additions, including Bixler’s work with local charities.
“Close to my heart is the design and implementation of the Charity Program, which has grown far beyond our first-year goal of 10 local charities,” he said. “Currently, it includes 26 local and national charities and almost 500 charity runners who have raised well over $100,000 (and still growing). Further, one local food pantry and one local clothing charity will be given the leftover food and discarded clothing from the race.”
I will represent the 360 Youth Services team in the half marathon. Dawn Portner, special events and marketing coordinator with the nonprofit, is excited about being one of the local groups represented in the race.
“We knew this would be an exciting event for Naperville, and we wanted to support our community, which has been so generous to us for the past 43 years,” she said.
Another highlight is the health and fitness expo from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at Edward Health & Fitness Center.
The expo will include exhibitors featuring the newest designs in running gear and shoes, as well as the latest developments in sports, fitness, nutrition and health. Runners will have an opportunity to ask last-minute questions of the race staff, timing company and pacing team, as well as an opportunity to talk with their pace group leaders. Whether you’re a runner or not, the expo is worth a visit.
Of course, nothing of this magnitude can happen without the generous time and talent of volunteers. And Naperville is never short on great volunteers.
“We are ecstatic with our team of volunteer coordinators and captains taking leadership roles leading up to and on race weekend,” Bixler said.
Bixler also has been impressed by the enthusiasm and participation of downtown businesses.
“Local businesses are jumping at the chance to actively participate, recognizing the benefits (that) 3,500 local participants plus family members can bring to their establishments,” he said. “And we in turn know how important they are to the success of the event, and we are lucky to have them involved.”
Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, is looking forward to the positive impact the event will have on Naperville.
“Downtown Naperville businesses are looking forward to the inaugural Naperville Marathon, and ready to welcome participants and their families into their businesses and celebrate their dedication and accomplishments,” she said.
In honor of the marathon, the holiday season will kickoff, too, with more than 300,000 tree and roof lights turning on simultaneously downtown at 6 p.m. Nov. 8, as well as the official unveiling of 25 painted gingerbread sculptures that will be installed on downtown sidewalks.
“What really cements the experience is the attitudes of the people that a runner interacts with during their race weekend,” Bixler said. “That element plays a role in the overall satisfaction with the event.”
So, Naperville, let’s be on our best behavior. See you Nov. 10!