It’s Illinois Marathon Week in Champaign-Urbana! There are plenty of ways for you and your family to experience Illinois Marathon weekend. We detail all the ways to get the family involved – from volunteering to cheering on runners to attending lots of fun events associated with the races. Marathon weekend is a point of pride for our community, and the level of Midwestern hospitality is beyond compare. Be part of it! Here are 10+ ways:
Health and Fitness Expo: That’s the central hub for all things Illinois Marathon on Thursday, April 25, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday, April 26, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.. It’s located in the ARC, just north of Memorial Stadium. If you like to pick up lots of cool swag and learn about races all over the country, that’s the place to be – and it’s totally free. It’s also where you pick up race packets and will be the location of the Pasta Feed Friday night (tickets still available). If you want to go there: park in the lots west of State Farm Center. (My kids love the Health and Fitness Expo. Many exhibiters have fun activities and lots of free swag.)
Volunteers Needed: Marathon organizers always need more volunteers, and this is a fun way to volunteer together as a family. According to the Illinois Marathon Volunteer FAQ, children are allowed depending on which volunteer assignment the adult chooses. Multiple assignments remain, and Illinois Marathon volunteer shifts can be chosen online. Please read the description of the specific volunteer assignment, and use your best judgment to decide if your child is capable of assisting with our volunteer team.
Runners love to be cheered on! Spectators are welcome and encouraged, especially for the marathon and half-marathon on Saturday morning. Determining your spectator viewing place based on the on-course entertainment? There’s a full entertainment list online. There are DJs, live bands and even The King himself – Elvis! (He will be in Urbana at mile 4, Washington and Philo Roads).
Busey Youth Fun Run: There’s still time to get your kids running in the Busey Illinois Marathon Youth Run, a 1K fun run which starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Memorial Stadium. The Youth Run is geared towards kids 10 and under (and we’ve seen kids as young as 2 run!). Be prepared that kids sometimes run away from their parents, but the run takes place entirely inside the stadium, so they can’t get far. It’s allowed in this event, don’t expect to keep up! For more info on Busey Kids Youth Run logistics, see these instructions. After the race, kids get Mac and Cheese from Noodles and Company, a cookie from Einsteins and more.
- It’s not too late to participate. In-person registration for the youth run will take place at the Health and Fitness Expo; and at Memorial Stadium, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., on Saturday, April 27. The cost is $15 per child.
Busey Youth Run Funzone: Celebrate youth fitness with the Busey Youth Run Funzone! Your little racer will be entertained as they wait their turn to take the field with FREE activities such as balloon artists, coloring, games and more. Located in the Great East Hall of Memorial Stadium, festivities will begin at 1 p.m. and run through 3 p.m. on race day, April 27. Festivities will close prior to the singing of the National Anthem.
Do you have family running in the marathon? Sign up to get messages tracking their progress at www.illinoismarathon.com/traking.php. The system will receive up to 10 text (smartphones only) and/or email messages on a runner’s progress during the race. As runners cross each timing mat on the race course, a message is sent (timing mats will be located at 10K, 10 miles, 13.1 miles, 20 miles, and the finish). There is no fee to sign up for the service, though your phone plan’s message/data rates may apply.
Run/Walk the Christie Clinic 5K as a Family: Did you know? The Christie Clinic 5K, run on Friday night, is perfect for those who “just want to have fun.” It’s also perfect for parents who want to push a stroller! It’s the only race where pushing a stroller is allowed. There’s still time to register, and all ages are able to participate.
Post Race Fun at the 4th Mile (Friday): Join in the fun at 4th mile (held on Friday night, April 26), starting at 6:30 p.m.and located just outside Memorial Stadium on Kirby Avenue (see the area map for location), the 4th Mile is the perfect place for you to kick up some excitement before your Saturday race and where you can celebrate with your friends after the 5K. A live band will play from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. to entertain everyone. In addition to live music, there will be food trucks as well as a beer tent and activities for the kids. No, you don’t have to be racing in the 5K to participate.
Post Race Fun at the 27th Mile (Saturday): Everyone is welcome at the 27th Mile Celebrate Victory Bash on the south side of Memorial Stadium on Saturday, April 27. Purchase a bite to eat from local food trucks, get your kids active in the inflatables (for a fee); and enjoy free live music from. No, you don’t have to be racing to participate. (8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Early risers? Get a free breakfast from the Bagel Bite Bar, west of the State Farm Center, on Saturday morning. Sponsored by our friends at Einstein Bros. Bagels and Columbia Street Roastery, they will serve 5,000 bagel halves and cream cheese to runners, spectators, and volunteers starting at 5:30 a.m. Get the bagels/coffee while they last.
Traffic on your mind? If you are concerned about traffic on Friday night (Christie Clinic 5K) or on Saturday (marathon day), here’s a list of resources with maps of the course so you can plan local travel accordingly. There is also a list of estimated times when runners will pass through certain mile markers.
Start times for the races:
Friday night: The Christie Clinic 5K starts at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: Wheelchair Half – starts at 7:01 a.m.
Marathon, half marathon, and marathon relay runners start in waves based on pace. Runners will leave between 7:03 to 7:25 a.m.
The 10K starts at approximately 7:35 a.m.
The Busey Youth Run: 3 p.m.
What are you most looking forward to during Illinois Marathon weekend?