Volunteer support crucial for Illinois Marathon

By Amanda Liberatore

Come April, the Illinois Marathon will take place in Champaign for the first time.

Head organizer Mark Knutson of CasMar Events, Inc., said he knows a good area for a marathon when he sees one.

“I chose this area because it’s centrally located in the state,” said Knutson.

“The terrain is very flat, perfect for running. Plus, the University is a huge draw in for runners locally and nationwide, as well.”

Knutson said that because the University has such a large number of students and dedicated alumni, he believes the marathon will be a huge success.

“Also, this is a great community, and that definitely is a big positive aspect when hosting an event like this,” he said.

The Illinois Marathon has set up partnerships with the American Cancer Society and their Charity Runner program and also with the Alzheimer’s Association.

One of the main local charities of the race is the Developmental Services Center in Champaign.

Mary Anderson, volunteer coordinator for the event, said that organizers currently are recruiting volunteers for the race.

Anderson said organizers are planning to promote the race and volunteer registration on campus, as well.

“We are also looking for campus organizations to volunteer as a group,” she said. “I am looking for a few groups of 20-30 volunteers to help with the aid stations, and this is not something that they can sign up for on the Web site,” she said.

Volunteers are crucial to the successful turn-out of the Illinois Marathon.

All previous marathons sponsored by CasMar Events, Inc. relied on volunteers from the local community.

“One of the main reasons that we picked Champaign for this event is its strong and friendly community,” said Knutson. “Combined with the tight-knit University committee, this event will run successfully and efficiently.”

Knutson currently directs the Fargo Marathon in North Dakota, and CasMar Events, Inc., where he is currently employed, also owns and manages the Earth Day Half-Marathon in St. Cloud, Minn.

As April approaches, the race committee is working overtime in order to make sure that the marathon runs smoothly.

“We are definitely looking for several hundred volunteers,” said Joe Bails, race director.

“This is one of the most important aspects of the race and how successful it is. Without volunteers, it is very difficult to put on a quality and successful event.”

Bails said he wants to emphasize to the community that volunteer opportunities are open for every aspect of the race planning.

“Jobs will range from putting materials in the race packets, to helping at the health expo, to traffic control on race day,” Bails said.

The marathon comprises various events, including the marathon relay, the full and half marathons, the 5-kilometer Fun Run, and the Youth Run.

There are 15 age groups for the full and half marathons and 18 age groups for the 5-kilometer race.

“The start and finish of the marathon will be at the University,” said Knutson. “All races will start outside of Assembly Hall and will finish on the 50-yard-line of the newly remodeled Memorial Stadium.”