OAK BROOK — The one major change in the Sept. 2 sixth annual Oak Brook Half-Marathon will affect runners before the 7 a.m. start of the race.
In an effort to ensure the safety and security of participants and spectators, the Oak Brook Police Department will not permit the use of a gear check. All gear bags should be secured in runners’ vehicles. Police will remove all unattended bags.
Race director Thomas Hepperle of Oak Park said that change stems from the bombing that took place at the April 15 Boston Marathon.
“It’s just a precaution because safety is so important,” Hepperle said. “Normally, runners can check their gear bags in before the race; they keep some fresh clothes in them. It’s a bit inconvenient to walk back to your car after the race to change, but most of the parking is pretty close.”
Hepperle said he saw a need back in 2008 for a long-distance race for Labor Day. It would be good training for the Chicago Marathon (held this year Oct. 13) and because Oak Brook is a central location.
“You can jump on any highway and get to Oak Brook,” he said. “It’s also a great running community in the western suburbs, and were able to set up a really nice course through some great areas.”
The 13.1-mile course is a combination of wide streets, soft crushed gravel paths, paved bike paths and scenic beauty.
Hepperle said the course actually was changed drastically in 2009, the second year of the race, and has remained that way since.
“We turned the course around in that second year, and it’s worked out very well,” he said. “One of the things that happened with the course change was that the second half of race is now much shadier than the first half. Runners like that.”
Hepperle said the race has attracted up 1,500 runners; however the 2012 total was closer to 1,100.
“So much of that has to do with the weather,” he said. “We had a very hot summer last year. We also had a very hot Labor Day last year.”
Hepperle said he would not know how many runners would take part in this year’s race until race day.
“Registration usually picks up during the last couple of weeks before the race, and that’s been the case this year, too,” he said.
The entry fee for the race ranges from $55 to $85, depending on the time of registration.
Hepperle said representatives of several charities, including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, and various youth athletic groups, work during the race and earn some funding for their respective organizations.
“I don’t get rich doing this at all,” Hepperle said, adding that races sponsored by major charities usually are coordinated by an outside group that is paid for its work.
The race will start on Kensington Road, near Kensington Court, and finish in Central Park. Free parking will be available directly north of the starting line in the Ace Hardware and The Crossings Office Center lots.
For more race information, visit http://oakbrookhalfmarathon.com.