Naperville playing host to inaugural marathon

Naperville runners, after years of traveling to Chicago or neighboring communities to get their marathon fix, can stay home next year.

The 2013 Inaugural Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon will step off at 7 a.m. Nov. 10 and be a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, organizers said Friday.

“Naperville has a great running community but they’ve never had a marathon, for whatever reason,” said Bob Hackett, who has organized the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles for the past three years. “We realized that as great of a city as Naperville is, it’s lost without one, so we’re making it happen.”

Hackett said organizers first approached the city two years ago but found the special events planning calendar already booked solid.

The 26.2-mile course has yet to be finalized, but Hackett said it will start near 95th Street and Book Road and wander south into Plainfield and unincorporated Will County before heading back north into Naperville. The course will take runners along a variety of streets and through forest preserve property.

The Naperville Half Marathon is 13.1 miles long and will follow portions of the same course.

“The course should be somewhat flat and fast, but it will have its rolling hills and challenges,” Hackett said. “It will be a Boston-qualifying race, so there’s an opportunity for runners to put together a fast race if they’re looking to head to Boston.”

Hackett said the early November date should be ideal.

“It’s a great time, weather-wise, as far as being able to have the better, cooler parts of summer for our longer runs,” he said. “That early October stuff saps the heck out of runners training for Chicago and Fox Valley.”

Hackett said the Fox Valley run has drawn as many as 7,500 runners, but the first Naperville event will be capped at 4,000. He doesn’t think they’ll have any trouble hitting that mark.

“You have to cap it in the first year to make sure it’s a nice quality event for the community and we’ll see what growth looks like from there on,” he said. “We’re not looking to make this the biggest race in the world. We’re just out to make this a really nice, quality event for both the running community and the Naperville community.”

Mayor George Pradel stopped short of promising to run, but said he will proudly cheer on the racers. Hackett said he would love for Pradel to be in the announcing booth with him to congratulate each and every runner as they cross the finish line.

“Every day I’m out and I see all of the runners we have in the city. It’s an amazing number,” Pradel said. “I’m happy they’ll finally have a marathon to participate in and call their own.”

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