Runners to Batavia: Keep half-marathon on streets
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DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO Runners begin the 2008 Half-Madness Marathon with a climb up the Houston Street hill in Batavia. The city had proposed moving the majority of the race on to the Fox River Trail.
The Peapod Half-Madness Marathon may return to the streets of Batavia this August, rather than being run mostly on the Fox River Trail.
About two dozen runners persuaded the Batavia city services committee this week to deny a city staff recommendation to move the 13.1-mile race.
A staff report said the move would reduce the number of streets that have to be closed for the race, and therefore reduce the number of police officers needed to supervise the race. It would also cut down on the barricades public works workers have to drop off and pick up for the street closures. It would be less disruptive to residents.
"We have the Fox River Trail. It is a resource many other communities don't have outside of this river valley," said Jason Bajor, assistant city administrator.
But runners said they enjoyed the width and scenery of the streets.
Last year, the Thanksgiving Day The Fox and The Turkey 4-mile race was "pushed off" to the trail and it "changed our race entirely, and lot of people were disappointed," said Thomas Spadafora, president of the Fox River Trail Runners club. There wasn't room for faster runners to pass slow ones, and people missed being cheered on by spectators.
Running on the trail also doesn't showcase the town, said Peapod race organizer Danny Delgado. And several runners said they wouldn't sign up, because they run the trail routinely.
The half-marathon has been held in Batavia for five years.
"We are very slow. We love spectators. We love people handing out ice pops," said Bob Miller of Bartlett, who runs with his wife. The first time he ran it, his wife was a spectator.
"It was great to watch the runners go through your town. I pretty much ate my way through the race waiting for my husband. I hit McDonald's, I hit Andre's. That Dimple Donuts place is a gem," Diane Miller said.
The Rev. Steve Srock said street closures make it difficult for churches' members to get out of their driveways to go to church, and streets are closed in front of some churches.
"It is extremely disruptive of our Sunday schedules," especially for Batavia United Methodist Church on Batavia Avenue. That church has a tiny parking lot, and relies on on-street parking. On race day, the street parking is taken by runners and spectators before church services.
Batavia churches support community events, he said. "We just don't know why it has to take place on a Sunday morning when the primary group that gets disrupted is the churches."
Alderman Eldon Frydendall suggested some route changes to avoid Main Street. And, "If the race was going past the front of my house and I wanted to be at church at 8 a.m., I would take my car out to the corner. And then I wouldn't have any excuse not to go to church."
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