When it comes to running competitions, Bill Burke has seen just about everything.
As the owner of Louisiana-based Premier Event Management, he has spent years organizing races across the country.
But he says he's never seen interest in a race spike as much in a single year as it has for this month's Naperville Women's Half Marathon and 5K.
In just its second year, he said the April 23 race is expected to draw competitors from at least 33 states.
Roughly 2,400 women registered for the inaugural race, he said. This year, with more than three weeks to go, 3,650 competitors already have signed up -- and there's still room for 450 more.
This year's race will follow a new course that begins and ends in Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium on the campus of North Central College near downtown and then winds its way through the city, going as far north as 5th Avenue and as far south as Hobson Road.
Burke says the jump in interest can be traced to several factors, including increased promotion for the race.
Last year, he said, organizers got their permit just 88 days before the race, creating a time crunch. Registration for this year's event, meanwhile, opened last May.
In addition, he said the Naperville race has a unique pricing structure. While other events charge a flat fee, the Naperville race offers a floating scale.
When registration opened, for example, the first 50 slots sold for $1. After those were snapped up in a matter of minutes, 50 more slots went on sale for just $5.
"There are several women running this year who have only had to pay $2 to be in two races," Burke said.
Naperville business owner Terri Hayes ran the half marathon last year and said she's looking forward to the new course.
"Having familiar faces anywhere on the course is really motivating," Hayes said. "Having them at the stadium at the start and the finish will be really nice."
Hayes, who owns Artistic Creations Salon, said she enjoyed last year's run, which featured runners of all ages and experience levels.
"It is a totally different vibe when it's all women, I think," Hayes said. "There are the instincts of the women wanting to help each other make it to the finish."
The Half Marathon will start at 7 a.m. and the 5K at 7:30 a.m. Every woman who runs gets a shirt, a medal and entry to the post-race reception, which will be open from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Two days before the race, three-time Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae from Australia will speak about her life and career at 6 p.m. Friday, April 21, at North Central's Wentz Concert Hall. The event is free, but registration is required at napervillewomenshalf. events.
Those still interested in registering for the race can do so at the same website. The current registration fee is $35 for the 5K and $65 for the Half Marathon.
Race: Sliding price scale may have made a difference