Fox Valley Marathon race organizer Dave Sheble describes turnout for the race’s training runs as “exploding.”
With the race committee hosting six weekend test runs in preparation for the Sept. 16 marathon, participants are given the opportunity to run the entire course by the end of the series.
“The numbers are really booming this year,” Sheble said. “The [training runs] have been growing each year, but this time they’re really booking up. The runners know they need their miles.”
Sheble said the goal is to make race day as comfortable as possible.
“There are so many benefits,” he said. “It’s a great way to train and learn the course at the same time.”
The first 10-mile test run took place June 16, and participants have added two miles to their training every other weekend.
Describing the marathon’s field as a smorgasbord – the annual race plays host to first-time marathoners as well as more accomplished runners looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon – Sheble said that even the most seasoned runner can benefit from the training runs, the next of which takes place Sunday. Interested runners for the 18-mile outing should report to the west side of the Fabyan Forest Preserve at 6:15 a.m.
“Unlike a street marathon where you have to block off the streets for the race, running on paths, participants can train on the actual course,” Sheble said. “That’s beneficial in many ways.”
With a field composed of what Sheble estimates to be 35 percent first-timers, he said the advantages from partaking in the practice runs are boundless.
“For those first-time runners, it’s great,” Sheble said. “It’s optional and free but you run and you can show up whenever you’d like. Runners get to run with others and you run with pacers. Most of the time, each run they achieve their personal best times and mileage.”
Sheble said the training runs’ most beneficial aspect is anxiety-relief.
“Each run, [first time runners] relieve some anxiety,” he said. “Come race day they know the course in their head and they have already logged many, many miles on the course. It builds their confidence immensely.”