Our very own doubleheader

Ebertfest and the marathon made for quite a weekend.

It's not always this busy, but Champaign-Urbana cemented its reputation as a happening place this past weekend when it hosted two show-stopping events — the 14th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival and the fourth annual Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.

As has become the custom, both events proved to be immensely popular, and why not?

The five-day Ebert festival offers specially selected films that provide food for thought for movie buffs while the marathon gives runners of all ages and sizes an opportunity to participate in a variety of distance-events.

Happily, both thrived side by side. But next year, it won't be quite so busy.

The 15th Ebertfest is scheduled to run from April 17-21 while the marathon comes a week later.

These terrific events have become annual rites of spring in central Illinois because of the tremendous imagination of individuals.

Roger Ebert, the Urbana native who became a nationally known movie critic, loves to come back to his hometowns and to his alma mater, the University of Illinois. So it was a natural that such an influential writer would someday preside over the creation of a film festival.

But someone had to come up with the idea first, and many people have had to throw their energy into creating and organizing an event that would draw not just movie fans but filmmakers, actors and writers to discuss their movies and their crafts.

Even after confronting a serious health setback, Ebert has continued his enthusiastic participation. That he has done so is a tribute not just to his professional passion but to his commitment to Champaign-Urbana and the UI.

As for the Illinois Marathon, has any local event ever established itself so quickly? This year, more than 5,000 people participated in Friday's 5k and another 11,000-plus showed up for Saturday's 26.2-mile marathon and shorter running events.

If there was ever an event whose time had come, this is it. But, again, someone had to have the vision and the courage to convert it from an idea to a reality.

The result is an overwhelming event that draws runners, volunteers and fans together in a way that speaks well of everyone.

But that's the kind of community we have. No wonder so many people think Champaign-Urbana is a great place to live.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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