As dawn rose over the DuPage River this morning, runners were pumped up to take on the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon and 5K.
“Excited just to be out there and do it, and run in our own community,” said Jodi Canup, who’s ran the half marathon.
“The weather’s holding up which is good, so no rain,” added Heather Schmidt, who also ran the half marathon. “And they change the course every year so it’s always interesting to see where we run.”
With the help of a thousand volunteers and the sound of the horn, the half marathoners were off for the 13.1 miles through downtown. Shortly after about 600 took position at the starting line for the 5K course.
“We had 546 charity runners out of about 3,600 total, so that’s a huge percentage of runners that are running for one of the 13 charities that are in our program,” said Race Director Craig Bixler. “And I think it’s just a reflection of the people around the Naperville area. They are looking for ways to give and our charities jump in and give them a great reason to give and we were able to provide the venue so it works out wonderful.”
One group ran in the memory of their friend Hannah, and reminds everyone to keep pushing forward went the running gets tough.
“Just keep thinking about the end, think of your reason for running. If there’s someone you’re running in memory of, you’re running for Hannah, any reason you have to keep you going is the best. And I say to anybody just keep going, put one foot in front of the other and try not to stop,” said Tracy Camaj, who ran the 5K for the Cancer Free Kids charity.
And it’s easy to keep going when you have the support from the sidelines, like the Pellettieres who cheered on their daughter.
“It’s great, she’s been running for a few years. I use to run with her but now that I don’t run anymore it’s great to come out and support her. No better way to spend a Sunday,” said Carl Pelletiere on the sidelines.
The 5K first place finisher for men’s overall was Nate Kennedy, and for women’s overall was Jennifer Garrison.
For the half marathon, Leighton Becher and Amber White took the first place spots in their groups respectively.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.