Illinois Marathon – Champaign, IL – Review

Illinois Marathon – Champaign, IL – Review

Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon

When: April 11, 2009 & May 1, 2010

Where: Champaign-Urbana, IL

Offerings: Marathon, Half Marathon, Wheelchair Half, Relay, 5K, Youth Run

The Illinois Marathon is only 2 years old this year.  I’ve been at both races.  Last year I did the Half Marathon, this year I’m in triathlon mode so I only ran the 5k.

For a newish event it is extremely well organized.  Packet pickup is painless and well staffed.  You also get to wander through the expansive University Of Illinois ARC which is the old IMPE which I ventured to many a time when I did my undergrad at the U of I.  They offered a pasta party and the Expo is huge and well attended.

illinois half marathon 09

Half Marathon Finish 2009

The Half Marathon (last year) was a fun course, particularly for alumni.  Starting in the shadow of the spaceship-esque Assembly Hall it meandered through the U of I campus out into Urbana, back through campus and out into downtown Champaign and finishing on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium.  As you finish, your name is announced to the stadium and you can watch yourself on the jumbotron, if you are still capable after running 13.1 miles.  I ran with my mother, who quite frequently had to wait up for me, I tweaked my knee a few miles in and was not in great running shape.  She nearly had to carry me across the finishline.

illinois 5k marathon

Illinois Marathon 5K 2010

The 5k (this year) was extremely pleasant, particularly because I knew I wasn’t running the half marathon again.  It was a quick loop through campus, running down Green Street (and past many of the bars I frequented as a student) then returned past the quad and back to the stadium for the again thrilling 50 yard line finish. Opposed to the relieved finish after the near collapse at the finish from the year previous, I finished alongside my little sister, giving an ironic high five as we crossed.  My mother, again ran the Half and finished in a great time.  I even had a pang of guilt for not running the half as I cheered her on at the finish, but that quickly passed as I remembered the 10 extra miles required.  Every finisher receives a very high quality medal.  Along with the epic finish, walking around with a medal really makes you feel good about your accomplishment.  They also last a lot longer than the typical event tshirt, of which I have a drawer full.

The after-event food and drink included pizza, which was a pleasant surprise.  The typical bananas, apples, cookies, pasta and water had a bit of a line, but they moved quickly.  There is also the 27th mile victory party which we merely walked past on our way to a hotel nap, but the live music and other attractions looked like a lot of fun.

All in all, this is one of my favorite events.  The college town makes for a fun atmosphere, there were a number of students up early cheering on the participants, many with a beer in their hand.  There was a good amount or student participants, two of whom donned a monkey and banana costume for the half marathon, which I think they regretted by the end as it had gotten fairly warm out.  The event is well run and the volunteers at the start and finish lines, as well as the water stops are supportive and very nice.  I will continue to make it a yearly tradition, as if I needed an excuse to go visit my little sister who’s a student down there now.  Next year’s race is April, 30, 2011.

CanEnd Review Crew Rating: ★★★★★ 

- The Amateur

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