What does Naperville gain by scheduling its first marathon?

Naperville is a decorated suburb: it is unusually large and wealthy compared to most suburbs, has been recognized by a number of publications for its better traits, and has a lively downtown. Now the suburb is adding another feature: it has scheduled its first marathon for November 10, 2013.

“Naperville has a great running community but they’ve never had a marathon, for whatever reason,” said Bob Hackett, who has organized the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles for the past three years. “We realized that as great of a city as Naperville is, it’s lost without one, so we’re making it happen.”Hackett said organizers first approached the city two years ago but found the special events planning calendar already booked solid.

The 26.2-mile course has yet to be finalized, but Hackett said it will start near 95th Street and Book Road and wander south into Plainfield and unincorporated Will County before heading back north into Naperville. The course will take runners along a variety of streets and through forest preserve property…

“The course should be somewhat flat and fast, but it will have its rolling hills and challenges,” Hackett said. “It will be a Boston-qualifying race, so there’s an opportunity for runners to put together a fast race if they’re looking to head to Boston.”…

Hackett said the Fox Valley run has drawn as many as 7,500 runners, but the first Naperville event will be capped at 4,000. He doesn’t think they’ll have any trouble hitting that mark.

There are several ways this race could help boost the prestige of Naperville;

1. This could bring in more people and attention to Naperville. All this could translate into more tax revenue and status.

2. This suburban marathon is connected to the Boston Marathon, a prestigious race. Additionally, there are a limited number of Boston-qualifying races. Check out this list of 2012 marathons and the number of qualifiers for Boston each race produced: many of these races are city races, not suburban races.

3. It will be interesting to see how Naperville tries to tie this to existing recreational and outdoor activities in Naperville. While it is a relatively flat Midwestern town, Naperville has a popular Riverwalk along the DuPage River and numerous parks and Forest Preserves (particularly the 1,867 acre Springbrook Prairie).

This seems like a win-win of the community: runners get a local race, the city of Naperville gets a marquee event to add to the schedule, and the event is on a Sunday morning so shouldn’t disrupt too much of normal suburban life.

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