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The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon was held on April 27, 2019 in Champaign/Urbana. Before we jump right into the marathon let’s talk about all the race weekend activities that make this a MUST DO race!
Race Management & Race Logistics:
Pricing for the races are reasonably priced, and similar to most other races. The sooner you register the more dollars you will save. Prices started at $85 and increased to $115 and were well worth it with the amount of swag and activities that were included. One area I would like to draw attention to was the communication received. The communication was by far the best I’ve experienced from any race! The engagement from both the social media aspect and the weekly email newsletter was off the charts! I’m not talking about weekly useless knowledge, but the information to keep you super pumped up until race day! Did I mention FREE race photos? As a runner I think this the best perk that a race can offer! Parking for the event was FREE as well and extremely close to start and finish lines. I had no issues with hurrying to find a parking spot.
Race weekend started on the Thursday April 26th before the race kicking off with the expo that was help in the ARC (Activities and Recreation Center). Parking was free, plentiful and extremely close to all important locations for the race events. The expo finished up on Friday evening, the day that I arrived. Packet pick up was very simple. You were emailed a unique QR code, that you provided to one of the numerous volunteers who then handed your Bib and drawstring bag. No ID needed and you could pick up for friends as long as you had their QR code. After that you were directed to the expo by foam finger wearing energized volunteer to pick up your race swag (long sleeve tech shirt for the marathon and a short sleeve for the 5k). (Energized will be a theme/phrase for the volunteers). The expo was decent sized providing several local area races, various vendors, multiple photo opportunities and a place to purchase race gear/necessities. The expo was very easy to navigate. On Friday evening there was a pasta feed also held in the ARC offering salad, meat or vegetable lasagna, breadsticks and various cookie desserts. They also offered a Gluten Free option. A nice way to consume that last carb loading meal and chat with other runners. All in all a decent expo!
The main portion of the marathon course takes place in the various neighborhoods surrounding Champaign/Urbana. This accounts for a lack of scenery surrounding a majority of the race. The course does take you through the downtown campus area, which allows you to see a portion of the university. Along several portions of the course there were signs placed providing information about the campus and other facts, which allowed me to take my mind off running at times. The course was marked extremely well and at no point did I have to decide which way the route would turn. The great aspect of this race is that you finish in Memorial Stadium and finish on the 50yd line. Overall the course is pretty flat with some gradual incline towards the end of the marathon.
The aid stations were numerous and provided Gatorade (Lemon Lime) and water which seemed like every mile. There were several aid stations that had GU Energy Gel, I ended up with more gels in my pockets than I started with. There had to be at least 6 aid stations providing gel on the marathon course. The volunteers were energized calling out the various hydration in the cups and were placed on both sides of the streets. Absolutely no congestion going through any of the aid stations.
Swag/Post Race Party:
Each finisher received a pretty cool race medal that featured Abe Lincoln, which was handed to you as you crossed the finish line. I also received a surprise fleece Illinois Marathon blanket which my daughter snagged immediately when I walked into the house. Water and electrolyte drinks were available as you exited the football field into the stands. Fair warning that you will have about 50 steps up to exit the field to where the post race food, consisting of pizza, bananas, chips, pasta and rolls. I felt full by the time I exited the stadium to where the post race party was. Additional food, smoothies, beer and post race music was available for those who wished to partake.
Overall I would rank the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon high on my list of favorites. There were just so many activities for runners and spectators to partake in during race weekend. The course was clearly marked and provided various sites and areas for spectators to view and see their runners. I actually saw two spectators at least 6-8 times on the course. So if you are looking for a race providing great value, the Illinois Marathon is a must!