Flossmoor’s ‘hidden gems’ given chance to shine for Sept. 7 race

  Katie Sullivan, right, waves to Patty Houlihan of Flossmoor
  during the Bike the Gem event in July. Sullivan recorded 
  the event as part of her work as graphic design and 
  marketing volunteer for the Hidden Gem Half Marathon. 
  Organizer Tom Dobrez credits Sullivan for the success 
  of the event's branding efforts.
(Chronicle file photo)
 
Flossmoor will have a number of “hidden gems” to show off on Saturday, Sept. 7, when more than 650 people from 14 states are expected to arrive for the inaugural Hidden Gem Half Marathon.
 
Tom Dobrez, one of the lead organizers of the Hidden Gem Half Marathon, ticks off a list of the “hidden gems” of Flossmoor that the race is designed to reveal to the runners and spectators: charming downtown, architectural diversity, public art, schools, churches, restaurants, parks and golf courses.
 
To Dobrez, though, the most important gem is the villagers.
 
  Tom Dobrez records cyclists 
  emerging from the Flossmoor 
  Road viaduct during the Bike the 
  Gem event in July. Dobrez is not 
  a runner but volunteer his 
  event-management experience 
  to the Hidden Gem Half Marathon 
  project.
(Chronicle file photo)
 
People coming to run and watch the race will “experience the spirit of the village,” he said. “They are going to see all this talent we have.”
 
That talent ranges from the steering committee that got the project rolling to the roughly 400 volunteers and numerous sponsors devoted to making it happen.
 
Dobrez said organizers held three public meetings to answer questions and address concerns from village residents. He said more than 300 people attended those meetings, and in addition to questions, a number of people offered to help.
 
  ▪  115 course marshals 
  ▪  16 core committee 
  ▪  14 registration staff
  ▪  25 finish line support
  ▪  97 on-course entertainers
  ▪  10 swag bag assembly 
  ▪  21 course tear-down 
  ▪  89 water/aid station support
  ▪  12 medical professionals
  (The numbers do not include
  members of neighborhood
  and high school cheer teams.)

 
The team of volunteers are involved with everything from helping the event run smoothly to making it a memorable experience. The roles include race marshal, aid station attendant, entertainer and cheer team member. 
 
The race marshals will be stationed at 90 intersections to help manage vehicular traffic and steer runners in the right direction. Aid stations along the way will be there to help runners. 
 
Each station will also have live entertainment, which will range from DJs to local bands, all of whom have volunteered their time. 
 
The pre-race festivities will include a DJ, a zumba dance session and the national anthem sung by Oliv Blu, a Flossmoor resident who competed on the television talent show “The Voice” this past spring.
 
Each neighborhood along the way will have a cheer team with its own costume theme.
 
The event, as Dobrez describes it, sounds like more than a race. It’s a race wrapped in a rolling festival.
 
The community has also provided financial backing. Contributions have ranged from people pitching in $25 to the significant contribution of the title sponsor, University of Chicago Medicine. There have been numerous in-kind contributions from local businesses and individuals.
 
Dobrez said village officials have been supportive, too, especially the police department under the leadership of Acting Chief Tod Kamleiter. Although volunteers will be posted at all intersections, officers will manage the main intersections and crossings of Governors Highway and Kedzie Avenue.
 
The race will begin at 7:45 a.m. in the Infant Jesus of Prague School parking lot. The route (see map on page 34) will go west past Governors Highway, through the Baythorne, Ballantrae and Flossmoor Hills neighborhoods before crossing Kedzie Avenue and going through the Homewood-Flossmoor High School campus.
 
After H-F, the route will cross Governors Highway again, then loop through Heather Hill to downtown, through Braeburn and Brassie avenues, through the neighborhoods north of Flossmoor Road and west of Dixie Highway, then back downtown. 
 
The final loop follows Park Drive to Heather Road to Sterling Avenue. The finish line is on Sterling just north of the Flossmoor Public Library.
 
Dobrez said the route was developed by the experienced runners on the commitee.
 

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