By Rachael McMillan
Here are the highlights of the event, including some reasons I think it rules:
- The event begins at 2:30 p.m., long after the madness of the day has reached its apex.
- The cost to sign up is $10, regardless of when you register. Participants all receive a t-shirt, drawstring bag, and finisher’s medal.
- Kids start the run at Kirby near Fourth St., and get to cross the finish line at the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium.
- $1 per participant is donated to the C-U Schools Foundation ($1 is also donated for all youth 18 and under who run the 5K).
There is no minimum age to participate in the Youth Run; according to the Illinois Marathon’s website, “All entrants (and any accompanying parent) should be able to cover the distance (a little over half a mile) on their own two feet.” Children over the age of 10 are asked to participate in the 5K event versus the Youth Run.
Just to be clear, parents are welcome to run with their kids–and they get to share in the post-race yummy snack, see below–but parents don’t have to run.
If you’re worried about your little one getting lost in the throng, don’t: according to Busey rep Robert Mathias, “The run is flighted according to age and the number of runners in each age group. The heats for the younger kids will go first. Heats will start as follows: 3 and under, 4 & 5, 6 & 7, 8, 9, 10.”
Robert also states that the event has its own entertainment (a mascot “embassador” that makes sure the kids follow the right course and make it to the finish line, then sticks around for photos), its own performance of the national anthem, and even a post-race “pasta course” of Wisconsin Mac and Cheese provided by sponsor Noodles & Co.
The race is in its fourth year and hopes to top last year’s enrollment (1,200 youth participated in 2011) by at least 300 runners. The planners like it to be, in Robert’s words, “the exclamation point on the race weekend.”
The event is also sponsored by County Market. All things considered, it sounds like a better value to have your child run the race that day than it would be for him/her stay home, especially when you consider that those free drawstring bags come stuffed with coupons to area businesses.
Talk about a win, win, win.
Sign up here, or call (217) 552-8325 for more information.
Rachael McMillan just took part-time job number 5,482: teaching sixth- and seventh-grade history at Campus Middle School for girls. She also tutors at The Reading Group and serves as the education coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer in downtown Champaign. She is totally in love with her Chambana life, which she shares with husband Scott, kindergartner Kate and first-grader Jack.