- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Virtual Race
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2014 was my fourth time running either the Illinois Marathon or Half Marathon. Why do I keep coming back?
This race has all the perks of a "big city" race but in a small town atmosphere. Stadium finish, great spectators, amazing aid stations (two with fruit!) and incredibly knowledgeable race management staff (they're runners and locals, too!). However, because it's in a smaller town compared to, say, Chicago, parking is plentiful, the roads are well maintained, and you get things like the unofficial bacon and beer aid station between mile 7 and 8.
They also have the unique I-Challenge where you run a 5K on Friday night and either the 10K, Half Marathon or Full Marathon on Saturday morning. There's also a kids run on Saturday afternoon. Basically, if you can run, walk or wheel there is an event for you at the Illinois Marathon.
There are some mild hills on the course but nothing you can't manage if you live in Illinois. People from hillier areas probably don't even consider them hills!
Also, the 5K tends to be quite crowded and their corral system had corral A being 27:00 and faster. That was A LOT of people!
The first few miles of the marathon/half marathon also tend to be a bit crowded as well as miles 8-9 or so when you run through Meadowbrook Park. Still, it's nothing compared to some races that are crowded the entire time.
As for swag, they have really stepped it up what with getting us Nike shirts this year and making sure we knew they were running small in advance. Also, the "golden ticket" idea for the goody bags is a fun way to make us actually look through all those fliers!
Post-race food is great and includes pizza, pasta (regular and gluten free), cookies, bananas, pretzels, and other assorted carbs. The only downside is that because the race finishes on the football field they don't allow food directly at the finish line. You have to climb stairs to get it!
Overall, though, this is a must-do race for anyone who lives in Illinois!