Naperville charities, clubs take charge of marathon course

  • Naperville Central High School student Jack Meyer works on a poster to support runners in the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 8. He and other students in the school's DECA business club made banners to cheer on participants running to raise money for the Naperville Education Foundation.

    Naperville Central High School student Jack Meyer works on a poster to support runners in the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 8. He and other students in the school's DECA business club made banners to cheer on participants running to raise money for the Naperville Education Foundation. Courtesy of Alissa Johnson Tripas

  • Naperville Central High School students Morgan Donnary and Kiara Mueller work on posters to support runners in the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 8. Students plan to line sections of the course near Naperville Unit District 203 schools to cheer on race participants.

    Naperville Central High School students Morgan Donnary and Kiara Mueller work on posters to support runners in the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 8. Students plan to line sections of the course near Naperville Unit District 203 schools to cheer on race participants. Courtesy of Alissa Johnson Tripas

  • Two 8-year-old students in Naperville Unit District 203 wrote their thanks to the 32 runners in Team NEF who are signed up for the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon to raise money for the Naperville Education Foundation.

    Two 8-year-old students in Naperville Unit District 203 wrote their thanks to the 32 runners in Team NEF who are signed up for the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon to raise money for the Naperville Education Foundation. Courtesy of Alissa Johnson Tripas

  • Some charity runners in the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon are raising money for education charities, such as the Naperville Education Foundation and the Indian Prairie Education in districts 203 and 204, respectively. Team NEF runners will get handmade thank-yous from young students.

    Some charity runners in the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon are raising money for education charities, such as the Naperville Education Foundation and the Indian Prairie Education in districts 203 and 204, respectively. Team NEF runners will get handmade thank-yous from young students. Courtesy of Alissa Johnson Tripas

  • Children's artwork by kids in Naperville Unit District 203 could be an extra motivator for Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon runners who are raising money for the Naperville Education Foundation.

    Children's artwork by kids in Naperville Unit District 203 could be an extra motivator for Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon runners who are raising money for the Naperville Education Foundation. Courtesy of Alissa Johnson Tripas

 
 
Updated 11/2/2015 9:21 AM

It'll be early Sunday morning when about 6,000 runners in the third annual Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon dash past the Naperville Country Club, through the streets lined by houses in the Westside Homeowners Association and around Naperville Unit District 203 buildings such as Highlands Elementary, Naper Elementary and Naperville North High School.

But don't expect golf club members, homeowners and schoolkids to be fast asleep, catching some zzz's on a lazy fall day and missing out on all the marathoning action.

 

Far from it.

Marathon organizers with Naper Events, LLC, have enlisted several community groups such as the country club, Westside Homeowners Association and Naperville Education Foundation to take charge of sections of the race that go past their properties.

That means hundreds of volunteers will be out from 6 a.m. on, watching intersections along the 26.2- and 13.1-mile courses, keeping runners heading in the right direction and supporting them with signs, cheers and spirit, said Dave Sheble, one of the race directors.

"They're leading (runners) with their efforts to cheer them on and to inspire them with whatever theme they think up," Sheble said about the course sponsor groups, which also include the Naperville Jaycees, Exchange Club, Grace United Methodist Church and the race's title sponsor, Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare. "The runners are definitely going to feel a strong level of support and uniqueness in every zone."

Twenty-two race zones will be handled by these groups and others, with Naperville police taking care of three zones near the start/finish line that run through the city's downtown.

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For volunteers with the Naperville Education Foundation, led by marathon co-chairs Alissa Johnson Tripas and Michele Cushing, this is a chance to involve the community and show kids the importance of volunteering. Having a presence along the course, complete with signs made by high school students, also will be encouragement for the 32 members of Team NEF, who are raising at least $300 each for the foundation to complete the race as charity runners.

Cheer zones will be set up at three schools on the course and at Mile 21, and volunteers with NEF will be responsible for nearly five miles of ground. Some big names of the school district, like Superintendent Dan Bridges and school board members Suzyn Price and Donna Wandke, will help out as race marshals, as will new Naperville North High School Principal Stephanie Posey and principals of two schools that feed into North.

"The route goes by our schools -- why wouldn't we want to be there," Johnson Tripas said.

Volunteers have to be 14, but younger kids can still cheer. And the education foundation has gotten them involved in creative ways, too, asking some elementary students to make decorated frames for Team NEF runners and others to write thank-yous containing their best advice for marathoners.

Ann Spehar, executive director of the Naperville Education Foundation, said she's expecting lighthearted tips that will make runners smile more than help them, possibly with pointers like "Don't forget to tie your shoes," or "No walking allowed!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No golf carting allowed, either, could be the joking advice offered by another organization providing course marshals for 11 intersections along Chicago Avenue as the race heads east toward downtown Naperville.

"We might put some of our golf carts up along the route or at least up by the entrance to highlight the golf course and bring something that's a little different and visually interesting along the route," said Tim Anderson, manager of Naperville Country Club.

Signs welcoming runners to the Westside Homeowners Association are expected to create visual appeal in the zones Jim Ruhl's organization is staffing along Douglas, Spring and Benton avenues and Mill and West streets.

"Being on the course route and out in our own neighborhood, we can cheer them on," Ruhl said.

Race director Sheble and volunteers like Cushing expect enthusiasm around the course to grow as the race becomes more established.

"It's exciting to be part of it," Cushing said. "You don't realize how far it reaches and how many people it touches until you start talking about it."

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