Hometown Races, or How to Avoid Stealing Silverware

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The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon (CCIM) is our hometown race. Of the 18,000 runners who participated in the any of the races last year, the vast majority of them live within 75 miles of Champaign-Urbana.

Of the 3,100 volunteers who stuffed race bags, worked the expo, provided aid along the course, handed you a finishers medal, or gave their time in anyway to the CCIM races, the overwhelming majority of them are from C-U.

The CCIM is our race, and I can give you countless reasons why it makes sense to run your “hometown” race.

Travel time and expo accessibility

I am reminded of when a friend and I traveled to Columbus where I ran the half and my friend the marathon. We rushed to drive there, get to the hotel, find the expo, find somewhere to eat, sleep in a weird place, and run the race. We finished our respective races and had to drive five hours to get back home. It was exhausting. A hometown race avoids that inconvenience altogether.

Shopping at the expo vendors inevitably supports the local businesses and charities that are there. You get to see just how important the race is to your community, and it’s a reminder of just why local races are so great.

Hotel and restaurant savings

Now, staying at a hotel and eating at local restaurants or the pasta feed are awesome ways of supporting the local economy and the marathon sponsors and friends. You should do that anytime you travel. Yet there is something to be said for eating your own food and sleeping in your own bed the night before the biggest race of your life. You save on costs, and you can freak out about running a MARATHON tomorrow in the privacy and comfort of your own living room.

Your “regular” routine

A hometown race lets you follow your regular pre-run routine. You can eat your regular pre-run breakfast, and not some adapted-for-travel version of it. How often have we scrambled to figure out what we’re going to eat and how we’re going to eat it when we travel for a race? “(Restaurant name withheld here), I really needed to ‘borrow’ that spoon to eat my packet of instant oatmeal. Sorry about that.”

And speaking about being regular… let me be brutally honest. If you’re going to have the mother lode bathroom visit either before or after the race, you’d much rather do it in your own bathroom and not some well-used porta-potty.

Showertime

It’s great that the CCIM and other races offer passes to local gyms for showers. But you’ll get funny looks from perfect strangers the moment you step into one and screech in pain when you find out just where you forgot to apply your Body Glide. I’d rather do that in the privacy of my own shower, thank you very much.

Friends and cheering

And finally, what makes running a hometown race the most exciting and inspiring is seeing friends along the route. Our neighbors and friends come out in droves to cheer us on each and every year. Personally, I finish the half marathon, go home, get cleaned up, eat, and then head out to cheer on the marathoners. At a race somewhere else, I’m not sure I’d be able to do that, worrying about travel, checking out of the hotel, and so on.

The “home” in hometown races really make running the CCIM a no brainer.

See you on the roads!