- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon
- Road Race
I ran this inaugural race in 2016 and absolutely loved it, but I had to skip 2017 because of a family wedding out of town. I ran again in 2018 and I am already registered for 2019. Held the third week in April and just minutes from my home, I’ve decided to make this my kick-start race for the running season each year.
Race Registration: Race registration is online through active.com. Registration opens at $1.00 (they don’t really say how many spots are available at this price, but I suspect there are very few), and then goes to $5.00 and keeps increasing in $5.00 increments as the lower prices sell out. I got in for 2019 at $30.00. The current price is $50.00, and the final price closest to race day is $100.00. If you are thinking of running this race, register sooner than later to get in on these great prices!
Pre-Race Notifications: Not much is received after the confirmation of registration via e-mail. There are a few notifications in the weeks before the race, but not much between registering and this later time period. This is not a big deal for me since I live very close to the race venue, but I can see where this would be frustrating for people traveling for this race.
Parking/Hotels: The race is held on a Sunday morning, so ample parking is available in and around downtown Naperville, Illinois. My dentist’s office is just two blocks from the race start/finish, so I get to park there for free, which also means I get to arrive just minutes before the race starts. There are a couple of hotels in the immediate area, but I can’t comment since I live so close to the venue.
Race Expo: There isn’t one! Packet pickup is in the basement of Naperville Running Company (a running store) in downtown Naperville. No frills here—just arrive with your ID, pick up your packet, and be on your way. That is fine by me. Packets can be mailed for a fee of $25.00, which seems a little pricey to me, but for out-of-towners, that may be the best option.
Race Swag: Runners receive race shirts and a free pair of Belaga running socks (at least during packet pickup at Naperville Running Company—I heard from some ladies at the race this year who did morning-of packet pickup that they did not receive the socks, but maybe they were just out by that time). Runners also receive a nice little drawstring bag. Shirts can be exchanged for size, but only after the race and in limited numbers, which is not very practical. I ordered a size S in 2016 and it fit perfectly. My size hasn’t changed, but the 2018 S is much too small for me. There were no Ms or Ls left when I came to exchange, so no 2018 race shirt for me.
Race Morning: The race starts and ends in Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium at North Central College in downtown Naperville. It’s a small race so there is not much pomp and circumstance—just a few exhibitors and some music and announcements before the race starts.
The Race: The course runs through many beautiful neighborhoods throughout Naperville, where you can spot some pretty amazing homes and landscapes if you are into that sort of thing! Participants also run on Chicago Avenue and Washington Street at different points of the race, both of which are main streets for the town. One side of Washington (the main drag) stays open to traffic, but because the race is held on a Sunday, that isn’t much of a problem for runners. The final two miles take the runners on a trail along the DuPage River. Beautiful and scenic, it is a narrow path, but with a race of this size, it’s not a big deal.
Porta-potties/Aid Stations/Security: There are plenty of water/aid stations along the course, typically manned by high school volunteers. There is a good police presence as well as enough scattered porta-potties along the route.
Spectators/Fan Support: Depending on the weather, there may or may not be too much spectator support. Since most of the race runs through neighborhoods, it is a pretty quiet race, but there are a number of people sitting at the ends of their driveways along the course cheering runners on. The final stretch of the race is lined with cheering spectators, which is a nice boost at the end.
Post-Race: There’s not a lot of hoopla to this race. It’s a small race, but I suspect it will continue to grow over the years. There are some snacks offered to finishers and music playing in the background, as well as the same vendors who were there at the start of the race, but that is about it.
Race Management: The race seems well-managed and I haven’t run into any bumps the two years I have run it. There is not a ton of communication from the race organizers, but I didn’t think that affected my experience. I can see where out-of-towners would need more communication between registration and race day.