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Chicago Tribune:

Naperville Marathon raises more than $226,000
By Gary Gibula, Special to the Tribune
November 13, 2013

Like the triumphant smile of a runner breaking the tape at the finish line, officials are beaming over the success of the first-ever Naperville Marathon.

Following two years of negotiation and planning, the event stepped off from the campus of North Central College at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The limit of 3,500 runners filled all registration spots in just 14 hours earlier this year, but there was plenty of room for people to become involved as spectators, volunteers or staff who lined 26.2 miles of Naperville streets.

The course took runners through city neighborhoods as well as Spring Brook and Green Valley trails on a chilly and breezy morning.

"It was a beautiful course, and it was a beautiful day out," said Jeff Purdom, who took first place in the half marathon event with a time of 1:14:14.

Just as with city events like Ribfest and Last Fling, organizing a marathon race requires partnerships and balancing costs. The Naperville Marathon set aside 600 registration spots to raise money for charity.

"We've raised for our charity partner program over $226,000 for 26 local charities, which is astounding," said race director Bob Hackett. "We were hoping to raise maybe $30,000."

The primary race sponsor, Edward Hospital, has taken the marathon race under wing, sending 63 affiliated runners to the event and raising $35,690.

"We are staunch believers in health, fitness and wellness, so we thought this really tied in with our philosophy of really trying to help our population be healthier and stronger," Edward-Elmhurst CEO Pamela Davis said.

The hospital also provided an army of volunteers including 16 physicians working at the medical tent and aid stations, 30 nurses and medical technicians, 12 physical therapists, five massage therapists and another 110 individuals who distributed water and sports drinks.

Kristi Lehner, of Sandwich, was a volunteer who switched from distance running to other sports after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"But I just had to be part of the running, somehow," Lehner said. "This is a way I can do that."

On a 40-degree Sunday morning, local resident Carol Phillips was bundled in an afghan, sitting on a lawn chair at curbside.

"My son is running in the race, and I'm here to support him," Phillips said. "I think this is good for our town. It's a good sport and this encourages other people to run."

Just ahead of runners on the race course rode volunteers from the Spokes bicycle shop who cleared the way.

"It was a beautiful run and bike ride," said Brenda Byrne of Shorewood, one of the riders. "The runners didn't notice the weather at all when they're running."

Within the pack of runners were other volunteers who carried signs indicating what pace they were keeping. Participants then kept up with that pacer if they had a goal of completing the race around a desired finishing time.

"Most people know from their training what pace they're going to run at," said Kris Hartner, owner of the Naperville Running Company, which provided the volunteer pacers. "Everyone has some idea of what race time they're going to run."

Officials held their breath when a scary moment occurred in the race.

"A gentleman had a heart attack at mile 5, which was right near a fire department station," said Hackett. "Fortunately, when he went down, he immediately was surrounded by four nurses who happened to be running the race. A park district cart was right there with defibrillator paddles, he was revived, taken to the hospital and is recovering fine."

"We also had a patient who fell on the course and had a dislocated shoulder," said Michael Hartmann, race medical director who is a ER doctor at Edward Hospital. "Commonly, we see things like scrapes, bruises, blisters, chafing, dehydration and musculoskeletal problems, which is the biggest issue."

After organizing each of the last four Fox Valley Marathons, Hackett said nearly three years of planning went into the Naperville event.

"We thought, with such a strong running community here in Naperville, it's an area that's being underserved," Hackett said. "We went to the city council, and they said they'd never seen quite such a presentation as we made."

Mayor George Pradel council members gradually warmed to the idea of a marathon event.

"I think what happened at Boston sort of made us feel that we needed to look at something like this at first with caution," Pradel said. "We just wanted to make sure everybody is safe."

Naperville Police Sergeant Steve Schindlbeck said more than 90 uniformed and plain-clothes officers from seven jurisdictions staffed the event.

Hackett said race expenses easily exceeded $100,000, and one of the largest costs was for security.

"The allure is the accomplishment of completing a long distance," said Hartner. "There's the pride, but a side effect is that you're going to lose a little weight and be in better shape."

"It's more so about reaching the goal and feeling satisfied about achieving such a big accomplishment," said Kyle Halkerston, 18, of Naperville, a Waubonsie Valley graduate who completed the half marathon in 1:59:01.

Kaitlin Palcowski and Kristi Carlson are residents of the Winchester Trails subdivision who were running their first marathon.

"Several of us in the neighborhood decided to all run together," Palcowski said. "It's a challenge to do something I hadn't ever done before and I'm terrified. Terrified, but really excited."

Carlson said: "Going as a group is part of the experience and we knew it would be fun. We didn't do it as some kind of personal challenge or test of our strength."

With a winning time of 2:34:25, first across the finish line in the full marathon was 24-year-old Yonatan Mascote. Amanda Mirochne, 26, of Naperville, was first place among the women with a time of 2:50:14.

Originally from DeKalb, Mascote has lived in Naperville for five years and graduated last June from North Central College with a degree in psychology. He works at Naperville Running Company.

"It was fun running the last mile of the race and my college teammates were right there cheering me on and chanting 'N-C-C,'" said Mascote. "That was a blast."

Results of the race show 1,079 runners completed the full marathon and 1,408 finished the half marathon.

Full race results may be found at naperville26.com. Officials said the next Naperville Marathon already has been scheduled for Nov. 9, 2014.

Watch a video, check out a photo album.


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