Top of the morning, Dec. 22, 2013

Something to get you going today, courtesy executive editor Jim Rossow:

Marathon reward: A bronze beauty?

Orchestrating an event as chaotic as the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon can be as fun as a big-toe blister at the 12-mile mark. But there's a part of the job that always makes Jan Seeley's day: medals.

"Some people sign up for a race because of the medal they get," said Seeley, co-race director for the Illinois Marathon. "The medal is huge."

Seriously. There even are rankings for marathon medals, just like college football's Top 25 (Portland's marathon was No. 1 in 2012; Chicago got no love at No. 19).

The first five marathons in C-U featured five different medals, three of which are pictured above. We'd show you the 2014 version, but it's not ready yet. Seeley hinted the refurbished Alma Mater will play a prominent role, a timely strategy in that Lorado Taft's bronze beauty is due back on campus this spring.

Seeley said the medals will arrive a few weeks prior to the April 24-26 event. Other dates and data of note:

Jan. 2

Plan to run the full or half-marathon? Don't wait until, say, the Final Four to start jogging. Second Wind Running Club's training program kicks off the day after the Rose Bowl and continues for 16 weeks. "You have to have a plan going in," Seeley said. "Doesn't matter what race you're in."

Jan. 15

That's when prices go up for this year's marathon, in most cases by $5 per race.

125 feet wide, 54 feet tall

Size of the new scoreboard at Memorial Stadium, whichs shows each runner as they cross the finish line. It's a major draw for an event that is expected to draw 20,000-plus runners again.

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