Are you itching to race? Ready to get back on the streets with your friends and neighbors?
Jan Seeley, Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon director, has the event for you: The inaurgural Run to Remember on Sept. 11. The 8K race will start and finish on First Street adjacent to Memorial Stadium, about even with the landmark Red Grange statue. The course will go through Campustown.
Entries will be capped at 3,000, with the registration set to begin Thursday. The fee is $40.
“We think it will sell out quickly,” Seeley said.
Why an 8K?
“We’ve never had an 8K in town, so that’s part of the novelty of it,” Seeley said. “Everyone can get a PR (personal record) in the 8K.”
Seeley has been kicking around different race ideas for months. The 2020 marathon was canceled because of COVID-19.
The 8K (4.97 miles) will be the first sanctioned race in the community since the start of pandemic protocols. That went into Seeley’s consideration.
“I wanted it to be an event that had some real soul,” Seeley said. “And would give our community members an opportunity to come together and remember.
“What you remember is kind of up to you, to hold to the light whatever or whoever you want. To reflect, feel gratitude, healing, unity, maybe to mourn, to be sad, to be angry. Basically, a bit of a pause, but an opportunity to come together and just forget all the differences that we feel sometimes. In a way to come together that only sport can, just level the playing field. We will literally all be on the same patch of road that day.”
Seeley has some extras planned for the race, including a back bib that reads: “Today I remember ...” with a blank space to be filled in by the participants with names or events they want to acknowledge. The back bibs will be offered to everyone involved in the race, not just runners and walkers.
“Everybody who is part of this event, the volunteers, the race directors, the race committees, the police, the fire, public works ...”
The reactions to the idea have been beyond positive.
“It sends a chill down most people’s spines when I tell them it,” Seeley said.
The race coincides with the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“There will be people thinking about that absolutely,” Seeley said. “But we didn’t want to tell people what to think.”
Seeley worked hard to come up with a mission statement for the race.
“An event to honor the memories of those we miss, cherish those within our midst and work together for a peaceful tomorrow.”
Inaugural means Seeley wants the 8K to become part of the regular race calendar. The date will likely move in future years. The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon works closely with the Illinois athletic department to find workable dates at Memorial Stadium. While the 8K is going on this year, the Illinois football team is scheduled to play at Virginia.
“The fact that it is on 9/11 is a coincidence,” Seeley said.
The race will benefit two local charities: United Way of Champaign County and the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois.
A special event COVID-19 safety plan has been completed with the Champaign Urbana Public Health District.
Seeley said unvaccinated entrants will be asked to wear face masks or covering and socially distance.
The race will include a wave start, making it easier to distance the competitors.