There's no reason to be alarmed when dogs and their owners are seen running down the middle of Main Street in St. Charles Monday morning.
A new addition to the 2nd Annual Foot Mechanics Memorial Day Main Street Mile race allows for dogs and their owners to run 1 mile through downtown. The dog race will be the first of seven separate races that will begin at 7:30 a.m. as a lead-in to the 10 a.m. Memorial Day parade.
"I'm a dog lover and I'm a runner," race Director Shelley Simmering said. "I know the benefits to the dogs and I love running with them. But who can ever race with your dog? So we added it this year. It's just so fun too."
Proceeds from the Main Street Mile benefit Salute Inc., which benefits soldiers and their families and Save-A-Vet.org which finds homes for military dogs. The Pet Pals Top Dog race is not the only new addition to this year. Simmering added two new waves, and new challenges like the Colonial Challenge, which is a high schools faceoff between St. Charles East vs. St. Charles North and Geneva vs. Batavia.
Simmering said the "most exciting trophy" this year is the new Zimmerman Ford fastest trophy award. It will be given to the overall fastest runner (excluding elite and dog racers) based on an age and time calculation.
The final wave will be for elite runners -- men who can run a mile in 4:30 or faster and 5 minutes or faster for women. The elite wave has a cash prize of $1,000 to the first male runner to beat 3:53 (last year's winning time by Richard Kandie of Coon Rapids, Minn.) and 4:30 for women.
Lukas Verzbicas is an elite runner who came in second last year and is looking forward to Monday's race. He said it's a good tuneup for other races he competes in.
"It was a ton of fun last year," said Verzbicas, 18, who graduated Thursday from Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park.
"It was competitive and really appealing to any runner because they do a great job organizing it."
Last year's race drew 300 runners. Simmering said as of early Friday more than that already signed up for Monday's race, and runners can register online at footmechanicsmile.com until 11:59 p.m. Saturday.