Naperville marathon doubling field to 7,000 runners
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Double the number of runners will be able to join the field for this year's Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon as organizers prepare for its second running on Nov. 9.
Organizers said 7,000 total spots will be available for the two races, which will start and finish from a different location than the campus of North Central College that was chosen to host the beginning and end of the inaugural event this past November.
The course also will wind through more neighborhoods in Naperville, likely eliminating the segments in Springbrook Prairie and Greene Valley forest preserves because paths there are too narrow, race director Bob Hackett said.
"We really want to give people a great tour of Naperville while they're running," Hackett said. "We're looking to have most of it on streets wherever possible because the trails themselves will not be large enough to accommodate the number of runners."
Last year's marathon course traveled through 36 Naperville subdivisions. Spectators from churches, schools, dance studios and downtown shops claimed spots along the course to create cheering zones, an activity race organizers are encouraging.
"This year's race will lend itself even more to the various neighborhoods and give an opportunity to stand out and celebrate with runners," Hackett said.
While its starting line will move from Porter Avenue and Loomis Street at North Central College, Hackett said the marathon still plans to start and finish downtown to incorporate the business community and give runners and fans places to celebrate after the big race. Organizers are considering moving the start/finish area to Hillside Avenue south of Naperville Central High School, a spot that has a history of accommodating the Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot as that race has grown to 7,700 participants.
After the first Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon last November, many of the roughly 2,500 runners who completed the 26.2- or 13.1-mile courses said they encountered more hills than they expected. Keeping the routes out of the forest preserves may rid the courses of some of those inclines, but Hackett said there will always be a few hills.
"The idea is to put forward a course that's a good Boston qualifier, which means as flat and fast as possible," Hackett said.
Organizers are working to finalize the course and are meeting Tuesday with staff members from the city of Naperville. The map will then head to city council for approval.
Hackett said registration should begin by early March. Last year, the 2,900 general spots available sold out in 14 hours, and organizers expect this year's slots to sell out quickly as well. Some of the 7,000 spots available will be reserved for charity runners, and Hackett said organizers are working to enhance that program to build on the $250,000 raised last year.
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