Council discusses plans for Illinois Marathon

By Amanda Liberatore

After Tuesday night’s Champaign City Council meeting, a study session was held to update the council on the planning for the Illinois Marathon to be held on April 11.

This will be the marathon’s inaugural year in Champaign and the marathon planning staff has been working on plans for the event for the past 6 months.

“So far, we have 783 people signed up to run in the marathon,” said Mark Knutes of CasMar Events, the organization that is helping to sponsor the event. “We want to create a first class marathon, attract national and international participants, put the city of Champaign on the map and to make the whole experience fun and enjoyable for the entire community.”

In addition to CasMar events, the marathon will be sponsored by the University, Champaign County Sports Commission, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the cities of Champaign and Urbana.

The marathon will begin outside of the Assembly Hall and will end on the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium.

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    “Not only do we want to showcase the city of Champaign’s beautiful downtown area and neighborhoods, but we also want to showcase the University,” said Knutes. “The University is in fact a well-factor for this marathon and it gives the University and local communities a chance to come together.”

    The marathon includes a full marathon, a half marathon, a four-person relay, a 5-kilometer fun run and half mile and full mile youth events.

    At-Large Council member Deborah Feinen questioned Knutes on if he expected financial assistance from the city.

    “Are we going to sponsor this event, as a city, by giving some of our funds to support it?” she asked.

    “No, we do not expect any discount from the city,” Knutes said. “With the state of the economy right now, we understand that times are tough. All we want to do is give back to the city and to offer our services in order to create a great event for the community.”

    From there, Knutes went on to speak about the economic advantages that the marathon will pose for the community.

    “For marathon weekend, we are expecting that runners will spend about $200 in the community, with paying for hotel rooms and food,” he said. “Also, we will have charity donations and fundraising contributions to help fund the event.”

    CasMar Events came together with the Champaign County Sports Commission to choose Champaign as the location for the marathon. Not only is it centrally located between big cities like St. Louis and Chicago, but it is also a lot cheaper to host a race here, as opposed to races in larger cities.

    The planning staff has made a variety of different steps in order to advertise for this marathon.

    “Marketing has been critical to this event,” said Knutes. “We have spent over $50,000 to campaign for this event, through television and magazine advertisements and through expos at other marathon races in the Midwest. We have had a lot of interest in this event and runners from all over are excited to come to Champaign and run this marathon.”

    The event proves to be a success, even drawing council members in to run in the race.

    “Not only do I completely support this event, but I plan on participating in the 5K event myself,” said Dist. 4 Council member Marci Dodds. “This is a great way to come together as a community in a healthy and active way.”