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10 questions with Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon director Jan Seeley

Apr. 20—The 2024 Christie Clinic Illinois Race Weekend is set to include a full marathon for the first time since 2019. Our Joey Wright sat down with race director Jan Seeley to get her take on how the return of the full 26.2-mile race came to be, as well as the impact the annual event is set to make on the community.

How excited are you to have the full marathon back for the first time since 2019?

I think the entire community is excited to have our race weekend "whole" again, with the return of the marathon distance. We could have easily given up on trying to bring it back. Our 2024 theme of "Reunited" celebrates the reunion of all our race events for the first time since 2019 as well as the countless ways our runners, community and race team come together each year to make this a one-of-a-kind experience.

How many volunteers does it take to successfully execute the Illinois Marathon?

Volunteers are the "beating heart" of our event. We can't live without them. We'll need almost 2,000 volunteers to execute our three-day race weekend.

How has the Illinois Marathon evolved since its inception in 2009?

Our race weekend has gone from a one-day "local" event with five different distances to a national three-day event with seven different races and eight I-Challenges that draws runners from 45 states and 10 countries. In the past 15 years, the event has earned a national reputation for spotless execution, incredible hospitality and a flair for personal touches. Our philanthropic reach increases every year as well. Through last year's event, our organization has donated $1.734 million to local charities.

What is the projected financial impact that the 2024 race weekend will have on the local economy?

The economic impact of race weekend is about $6 million. The return of the marathon event could boost that even more.

What is your favorite part about directing the event?

I have several favorite parts. Certainly high on the list is celebrating the stories of the individual participants. Everyone has a reason for running or walking our event, and I never tire of hearing about those journeys. I also love how race weekend shines the brightest of lights on our community. And, I love how race weekend provides a super-fun and healthy arena for family and friends to come together.

Coordinating a race of this magnitude must be challenging with regard

to planning the course, shutting down streets, working with the cities and the University of Illinois, hiring security, promotion, etc. Can you summarize a bit about all that goes into those relationships?

Relationships are key to our ability to execute our event, whether that's with City officials, sponsors, the University of Illinois, and so on. I've been fortunate to be part of the event since Day 1, so the relationships I've developed over the years really come into play.

The return of the full marathon is the big story this year, for good reason. But what are some other storylines that community members should be aware of during race weekend?

Every year we strive to welcome to race weekend members of our community who have been underrepresented in past years. With our new Kicks for CU Kids program, in partnership with Body n' Sole Sports and other community businesses, we have provided free running shoes and socks to over 80 young runners who will be participating in our 5K and youth run for the first time. This year, a number of Deaf runners will also join us for the first time. We've worked with PACE Center for Independent Living to have several American Sign Language interpreters join us to support these athletes during race weekend. We even had some of the Deaf runners put together . We will share the video with our volunteers and participants. I am so excited to meet these athletes.

I'm sure March and April are incredibly busy months for you and your team, but to what extent is planning for the event a year-round process?

Planning for our race weekend is absolutely a year-round operation. It's like planning the Super Bowl. As crazy as the last two months are for our team, those months would be out of control if we didn't pace ourselves throughout the rest of the year to accomplish the million and one tasks that go into executing an event of our size and scope.

Will planning for the 2025 race begin as soon as the final runner crosses the finish line on April 27?

Planning for our 2025 race weekend has already begun, starting with securing next year's race weekend dates with the University of Illinois: April 24-26, 2025.

Come April 28, what are some factors associated with the race weekend that you and your team will weigh when it comes to considering the event a success?

Flawless execution of race operations (street closures, security, hydration station and medical stations all went to plan). The races start on time. We get city streets back open as soon as possible. We have happy runners/walkers celebrating their accomplishments at the finish line inside Memorial Stadium and at the Street Fests. Our participants "float" out of town, eager to return to our great community, after receiving "red carpet" treatment the entire race weekend.

If there's a need for last-second volunteers, how can people sign up?

Most likely we still need more volunteers, so head to to see what positions are available.