Event organizers at the Alexian Brothers Fitness For America Festival coming up this weekend in Hoffman Estates know they can't outrace the heat.
"You can never be too careful, obviously," event founder Peter Starykowicz said.
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That's why they're ensuring participants will have plenty of water, access to medical staff and shade. The three-day event that includes running and skating kicks off Friday with a vendor expo showcasing inline skates and other equipment. The first day of races is Saturday featuring a half marathon, which is now part of the Chicago Half Marathon Series. That means more registered runners, Starykowicz said.
In-line skater Cale Carvell said getting some time training in the heat is important. He's a member of inline skating's Team Rainbo, which used to skate the streets of Hoffman Estates to practice. The festival started four years ago with the Chicagoland Inline Marathon, the second-largest inline skating race in America. While the inline race draws some of the sport's bigger names, the event has since grown to include athletes of all ages and abilities.
Carvell said he'll soak his skating jersey in cold water before the race and during the race if possible. Preparation for skating isn't any different from any other sport. That includes drinking lots of water before the race and staying out of the sun.
"I imagine that the times will be a little slower due to the heat," Carvell wrote in an email.
This year's event boast two new free kids races. While they're not openly bashing Internet surfing, video gaming or other so-called sedentary activities event organizers want to motivate children to stay physically active and attack obesity.
The free runs are on Saturday. The 100-meter race is for children 8 and under and a 250-meter race is for kids 14 and under. It's the first time in the event's four-year history that they've offered a free event for kids. Parents will be able to register their children on Saturday morning at the AT&T campus at 2046 Lakewood Blvd. in Hoffman Estates. For more information go to the event's website.
Starykowicz, who lived in Long Grove, has seen his vision expand. An avid fan of inline skating he brought his idea to Hoffman Estates officials more than four years ago, and the event has taken off.
For Alexian Brothers, the youth events are a perfect tie-in to the new $117 million children's hospital planned to open in 2013 in Hoffman Estates. Alexian spokeswoman Sara Odland-Beyna said it's just an example of how they encourage kids to make healthy decisions.
"They know an apple is going to make them feel better than grabbing a bag of chips," she said.
Likewise the festival won't be serving up hot dogs, said Linda Scheck, business retention and tourism coordinator for Hoffman Estates. The festival organizers have entered into a contract with Valli Produce to provide fruits.
Registration is up by 20 percent compared to last year. The village and All Community Events, run by Starykowicz, organize the fest. Including all the runs and races, the festival has about 1,700 registrants from five countries. The inline marathon will draw about 500 skaters and ranks behind Duluth, Minn., as the largest in the country.