Illinois Marathon Weekend

Illinois Marathon - April 22

On Saturday, the Illinois marathon was held in Champaign. The race weekend kicked off Friday evening with a 5k and concluded Saturday morning with a 10k, half marathon and full marathon as well as a marathon relay. There was also an I-challenge for those competing in races on both Friday and Saturday. The theme for the race weekend was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the University of Illinois, and commemorative finisher medals depicted the university’s birthday.

The marathon and half marathon started with perfect running conditions and temperatures in the high 40s. Both races started at State Farm Center on First Street and St Mary’s Road and shared the first approximately 12.5 miles of the course. The first mile of the course was past many of the sport fields, dormitories and fraternities along First Street before turning onto Green Street and heading east into Urbana. This portion of the course did get a little congested due to some construction but was alleviated after leaving the campus and running through downtown Urbana along Main Street.

The course continued through residential neighborhoods before entering Meadowbrook Park at mile eight and exiting the park around 9.5 miles into the course. The home stretch was mostly flat running north along Race Street before turning west onto Pennsylvania Avenue and arriving back on campus. Those in the marathon continued the second half of the course into Champaign and along Champaign Country Club before heading back east via Stadium Drive and onto campus. The finish line for both races was a memorable finish on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium where runners could see themselves on the jumbotron.

Along the course there were several bands and live music, spanning all types of instruments and genres. Spectators were out in full spirit as well including a “finn-ish” line with people dressed in Finnish clothing and waving the flag of Finland. Runners had the option to display their names on their bibs which was great for the spectators to help encourage everyone through the tougher portions of the course. The volunteers managed the aid stations well and were distributing plenty of Mylar blankets at the finish line.

For the full marathon, the top male finisher was Teferi Bacha Regasa in 2:22:18 and the top female, running in her debut marathon, was Rachael Brewer in 2:47:26. The half marathon was won by Sammy Rotich in 1:04:37 for the men and Julia Kohnen in 1:16:31 for the women.

A post-race party with food and beverages provided by the sponsors along with live music and even cake to celebrate the 150th birthday of U of I concluded the festivities. If you are an alumni and looking for a nostalgic feel while running a race, the Illinois marathon race weekend is a great event; even if you don’t have any affiliation with the university, this well-run expo, on-time start, cooler temperatures and good support along the course makes this event an ideal spring race.




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