Half marathon to lead runners through Flossmoor

One of Flossmoor’s busiest days of the year is about to get busier.
The nonprofit Flossmoor’s Future is planning a Hidden Gem Half Marathon”that will lead runners through the village’s different neighborhoods on the morning of this year’s Flossmoor Fest.
The 13.1 mile race on Sept. 7 is designed to showcase Flossmoor’s parks, schools, sculptures and community spirit to potentially hundreds of new faces.
Organizers are expecting about 300 to 500 runners and seeking 200 volunteers. 
The Flossmoor Village Board approved resolutions authorizing road closures during a March 18 meeting. With this approval, the proposed road closures will be sent for county and state authorization as well. 
The race is set to begin at 7:45 a.m. in front of Infant Jesus of Prague Church and finish on Sterling Avenue north of Flossmoor Public Library by 11:15 a.m. 
From the church, the race will go west through Baythorne, Ballantrae and Flossmoor Hills/Highlands before turning east to cross Governors Highway. Then, the race will proceed through Old Flossmoor, Heather Hill, Braeburn/Brassie and Flossmoor Park before finishing the last mile-and-a-half in Old Flossmoor.
Runners are to head south on Sterling for post-race activities downtown, with cleanup to be completed by 1 p.m.
Tom Dobrez of Flossmoor’s Future said the length of the race will likely attract participants.
While 5K races are common in the Chicago area, there are fewer than 20 half marathons nearby, most of which are out-of-state, he said.
“This presents a really unique opportunity for us to put something on the map,” he said.
The path itself will also be a draw, as some other races are 6.5 miles going straight down one road and 6.5 miles coming back, Dobrez said.
“It’s not what they call a ‘run-out-and-come-back race,’” he said. “It will be a very attractive race to the runners as we go through all the different neighborhoods and pass through all the great sites this town has to offer and the excellent scenery.”
The race route will also be officially certified and sanctioned by the Chicago Runners Association, pending approval. 
He also explained that the date of the race was selected to coincide with the training schedules of runners who plan to compete in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13. 
“It’s a long run, and many training regimes need a long run about six to eight weeks before we run a marathon,” he said. “So this race we are proposing for Sept. 7 will be perfectly timed for those individuals wishing to partake in that race.”
Assistant Village Manager Allison Deitch said Labor Day weekend and the weekend after Flossmoor Fest were considered but ruled out so village staff would not be locked into working two weekends in a row.
Trustee Diane Williams said she likes the idea of hosting the race on the same day as Flossmoor Fest, but she wants to make sure one event doesn’t negatively affect the other. 
“I don’t have any issues with it, but I am concerned about the logistics and people who do come to Flossmoor Fest every year and bring their children,” she said. “I don’t want them to find themselves unable to participate.”
Deitch said their plan is to have setup for the festival completed the day before the race. People would be able to walk to the downtown area during race hours, but parking and moving additional festival items in won’t be allowed until after the race is cleared. 
There would be a deadline set on the race and a break before the festival begins, she said.
“We do understand the impact on the festival,” Deitch said. “We are looking for ways to mitigate that during the day and make sure (Flossmoor Fest) stays a special event.”
She said they are also working on light entertainment to incorporate during the hours of the race, making sure some restaurants will have their doors open for those waiting on runners to pass by.
Dobrez said he will have a better idea of the kind of parking space needed as registrations come in, but that they will be encouraging Metra use and asking local organizations and schools to open their lots.
Trustee Jim Mitros said he could see the race adding a new layer to Flossmoor Fest and sparking some excitement.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said. “We’re going to make it work.”
Dobrez said Flossmoor’s Future is a registered 501(c)(4) organization, and members came up with the idea for the race to bring people together.
“Essentially what we were looking for is solutions and discussing ways we could work together, all of us in this community, to have a real positive impact on this village that we all love,” he said.
Race registrations are available for $60 at hiddengemhalf.com
Prizes for first-, second- and third-place winners will be awarded in the amounts of $1,000, $500 and $250.

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