If Saturday registrations for the 2014 version of the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon are any indication, the race will only continue its growth in 2015.
Demand for race slots was so high it clogged registration servers for part of Saturday, the first day of the general signup period. Race Director Bob Hackett said the pace of registrations Saturday will most likely lead to the race selling out sometime on Sunday. If that happens, the now 7,000-person race may continue to grow next year. The marathon attracted more than 2,500 racers last year.
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"One of the things that we've always talked about is making the Naperville marathon one of the great destination races," Hackett said. "We want to run it that way. What's the magic number for maximum racers? We don't know that."
Hackett said decisions about growing the race again next year will be made only after the 2014 race Nov. 9 and full debriefing of its successes and failures.
"The things we'll look at in that decision are runner safety, is it good for the city and the community as a whole, are the runners happy and comfortable," Hackett said. "If the answers are in the positive, we have an opportunity to grow. But it only takes one 'no' to go back to square one. So, do we want to grow? Yeah. Do we want to grow fast? No."
Given the high volume of registrations on Saturday, Hackett said it is very likely race organizers will stick with a Saturday general signup date in the future. The charitable registration slots are also likely to make a return appearance. In fact, they may be the only way to still secure a spot in the marathon after this weekend.
Marathon organizers debuted a charity runner program this year. A total of 725 race slots are available through 26 charities. A donation of between $150 and $500 through those not-for-profits lands a spot in the race, but those slots are also going fast, Hackett said. At least one charity has nearly sold all its race slots, while many of the others have sold about half of their slots.
A full list of participating charities is available on the race website: www.naperville26.com.