Illinois Marathon expects massive turnout

More than 8,000 runners will be participating in the inaugural Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Saturday. At the event, 85 percent of the participants live in Illinois and will be joined by individuals from 45 states and six countries.

The marathon will consist of five events. There will be a full marathon, a half-marathon, a marathon relay, a 5K run and a 1K run for children, said Jan Seeley, media liaison for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. She said all events are closed for registration except the 1K run for children. She expects the number of participants in the 1K run to double by Saturday.

“We did everything we could to keep possible runners informed about the need to sign up,” Seeley said. “Unless you are 12 and younger and plan to run in the 1K, you will not be running Saturday.”

Seeley said they have been planning the race since June of 2007.

“Mark Knutson, race director for the Fargo, N.D., Marathon, came here and liked what he saw,” Seeley said. “We got immediate support from both the cities and the University.”

She said the marathon will start around 8 a.m. near Assembly Hall. Once runners complete their respective events, they will finish at the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium.

Nell Pounder, graduate student and treasurer for Illini Runners, will be participating Saturday with two other members of the registered organization.

“We have enjoyed training together and look forward to a great run Saturday,” Pounder said.

The city of Champaign Web site even had an hourly update to show the spots open for each event, Seeley added. The facilities, shirts and medals will not be distributed to any more participants.

“There is no gray area,” she said.

She added that Christie Clinic also had a lottery to add 250 additional runners for the half-marathon.

Police officials and volunteers will be helping out with directing runners and street closures.

“We have over 2,500 volunteers and there will be 623 traffic assistants on the course,” Seeley said.

According to the city of Champaign’s Web site, parts of Kirby Avenue, First, Fourth, Wright and Green streets will be closed throughout the day.

The Web site also indicated that all traffic approaching the marathon route will be directed across the route and not allowed on the route. Residents can look at the city of Champaign’s Web site for more detailed information about street closings.

In addition, parking restrictions will begin at 1 a.m. and will be in effect until 6 p.m.

Even with the road closures, Howbowda Bagel Co., 611 E. Green St., is hoping to get extra business as a result of the marathon.

“Once we get them in the door, we have done our job,” Dustin Canter, co-owner of the bagel shop said.

“People coming in will want to try a place that they haven’t seen before.”