Area runners are going to have to cool their jets until the next official Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon weekend (April 28-30, 2022).
But there is a potential new event coming much sooner: Sept. 11.
Co-director Jan Seeley said Thursday that a 5-mile race is being considered that day.
“It is going to be an event that celebrates Champaign-Urbana,” Seeley said. “It is going to be a very local focused kind of theme.”
The size and scope of the event depends on the health situation in the community the upcoming weeks and months.
“This is all provisional, of course,” Seeley said, “Right now, there are no special event permits that are being issued.
“We want to make it clear we have not gotten any permission from (the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District) and the cities. This is just what we hope we can do and hope we can present when that changes.”
Seeley said there will be a detailed COVID-19 mitigation plan as part of the presentation.
There won’t be an expo, packet pickup will be done in the weeks ahead of the race, and there will be no Memorial Stadium finish.
The existing start line on St. Mary’s Road is expected to be used. But instead of a mass of runners, there will be much smaller pods, with runners/walkers 6 feet apart going off in timed intervals. Fastest go first.
“We send off five people at a time every five seconds,” Seeley said.
Seeley said the event will be for runners and walkers. No teams, just individual participants.
There are a whole bunch of I’s to dot and T’s to cross before the event becomes official and entries are taken.Organizers picked Sept. 11 because Illinois football won’t be in town that weekend. New coach Bret Bielema takes the Illini to Virginia.
In January, when the 2021 Illinois Marathon races were postponed, the organizers also announced they received permission from the University of Illinois to try to hold an event during the Sept. 9-11 window.
The new event will serve as an addition to the current slate of Illinois Marathon races: mile, 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon relay, marathon and a youth run.
There will likely be a Champaign vs. Urbana element to the new race.
“We’re thinking it’s going to be a fun competition between the cities,” Seeley said.
The participants will run for either city, with a fundraising component as well.
“The participants on the Urbana team are trying to raise as much money as possible for an Urbana charity and the Champaign team is trying to do the same.” Seeley said.
If the race is held, the number of participants will be the nextbig decision.
“It’s definitely going to be a mad dash for registration if we can do it,” Seeley sad. “It may be 500. It may be 1,000. We really just don’t know.
“The event will have as many participants as is safely possible within what’s allowable and what our COVID mitigation plan can handle safely.”
Masks will be required while participants wait in their pods and at the start line. There will be no hydration stations. Participants will need to carry their own water.
At the end, meals and medals will be in bags, and the participants will quickly move on.
“No common gathering era,” Seeley said. “None of the kind of stuff we can do under normal circumstances. This is the only way our plan would be acceptable, assuming the cities are giving out permits.”
The 5-mile race could stay on the schedule in future years, Seeley said.
Sept 11 is more than five months away. Time is on the Illinois Marathon’s side when it comes to the new race.
Planning will continue in the coming weeks.
“We’re putting everybody on notice that we’re trying to do a new event,” Seeley said. “Keep that date open on your calendar, so if we can do it, you might able to get a spot.
“It’s going to be a dogfight to get spots because we can’t make it that big.”