Marathon will affect traffic, parking
CHAMPAIGN — With more than 20,000 people signed up for this weekend's Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon races, it might seem like everyone's running.
But there will be thousands more spectators and volunteers — and people who are just trying to get around town.
Overall, "be cautious because there will be a lot of extra people in town," said Scott Friedlein, emergency services coordinator for the races.
He said traffic and parking likely will be the biggest issue for Champaign-Urbana residents who are not involved with the races.
Traffic will be slowed at different areas throughout town for more than 7 hours on Saturday during the 26.2-mile marathon, which begins at 7 a.m. A shorter 5-kilometer race starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday night could slow traffic in the campus area for more than two hours.
In Urbana, roads will be closed on Saturday until runners have cleared and cleanup crews have passed through. Traffic will be allowed to cross before roads reopen, according to the Illinois Marathon website, but not until most runners have passed and safe gaps appear between runners.
No roads will be closed in Champaign, but cars will be expected to yield to runners.
In both cities, volunteers will be stationed at intersections to assist vehicles. Those living inside the 26.2-mile race loop — which is a large portion of Champaign-Urbana — can refer to the Illinois Marathon website for more information on how and when it is best to pass through.
The website also lists when peak runner times should be expected in each area. Those peak times are expected to last for about one hour at different points on the course.
Race planners have devised a "beltway" around the race course that drivers can use to avoid the blockages altogether. The beltway stretches as far east and west as High Cross Road in Urbana and Staley Road in Champaign. From north to south, it spans from Bradley Avenue to Curtis Road. It also includes large stretches of University Avenue in Urbana and Windsor Road in both cities.
There are 21 different road segments in Champaign-Urbana where parking will be prohibited on Friday night and most of the day Saturday. Those no-parking signs were expected to go up Thursday, and residents will be able to resume normal parking routines no later than 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Bus service will be affected: Nine Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses will be rerouted beginning at 6:35 p.m. on Friday and last for roughly 11/2 hours, according to the MTD website.
On Saturday, 27 routes will be affected starting at the beginning of the service day until it is safe to resume normal service, but MTD officials are not sure when that will be. All reroutes are listed on the homepage of the district's website, cumtd.com.
Free parking for spectators will be available at Assembly Hall, Research Park off of St. Mary's Road and Oak Street, or in Lot E-14 off of Oak Street and south of Kirby Avenue.
Spectators can access Memorial Stadium, where the finish line will be located, through door 32 on southwest side or doors 19, 21 or 23 on the southeast side. Spectators may watch from the east or west stands and can meet runners in the horseshoe bleachers after they finish.
No spectators will be allowed on the field or in the Great West Hall of the stadium. Backpacks, bags, coolers, containers and alcoholic beverages will not be allowed in the stadium. Small purses and fanny packs will be allowed but are subject to inspection.
Outside of the traffic impact, Friedlein said non-runners and residents shouldn't have anything else to worry about.
"Hopefully not," Friedlein said. "Hopefully it's quiet and peaceful."
Parking: Free parking for runners and spectators is available at the Assembly Hall, at Lot E-14 on Kirby Avenue between First and Oak streets, and at several lots to the south.
Arrive early: Runners are encouraged to try to get to the start 30 minutes before start time. Free coffee and bagels will be available near the start line beginning at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
Toilets: 80 portable bathrooms will be available near the start line, and more throughout the course.
Dress for the weather: Forecasters are predicting good running weather. For Friday night's 5K, temperatures could be in the mid-50s. The National Weather Service forecasts a high temperature of 66 degrees on Saturday and partly sunny conditions.
Memorial Stadium: All the races end at the 50-yard-line at Memorial Stadium. Spectators will not be allowed on the field, but they can meet runners in the horseshoe bleachers after they finish. Spectators will not be allowed in the Great West Hall unless they are accompanying a younger runner, but they can cheer runners on from the east and west grandstands.
Volunteers: More than 3,000 of them make the race possible, from the packet pickup until the 27th Mile Celebrate Victory Bash on Kirby Avenue after the race is over.
Home parking: If you live along the route where streets will be closed for the race, be sure to move your car the night before. Streets will be closed early in the morning, and if you need to go somewhere or have an emergency, you could be trapped in your driveway.
Buses: Street closures along the course will affect Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District routes starting Saturday morning until about 6 p.m. Campus buses will be rerouted for a couple hours Friday evening during the 5K.
The MTD's website, http://www.cumtd.com, has more details.
Getting around: For long periods, some Urbana roads will be uncrossable. There are not necessarily road closures in Champaign — fewer runners will be on the route that goes through Champaign — but drivers will be expected to share the road with racers.
Marathon organizers suggest using a "beltway" to get around town (see map at right).
Beltway map also is available at http://www.illinoismarathon.com/pdf/map_beltway.pdf.