21 Oct Runners, ‘Charity Heroes’ go the distance for Healthy Drive…
The seventh annual Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon and 5K highlighted both the fresh and the familiar.
Sunday’s event featured a first-time winner in Wheaton’s Brian Martin, the top male finisher, who crossed in one hour, 15 minutes.
“It’s the first thing I have ever won,” Martin said.
On the other end of the spectrum, top women’s finisher Marisa Hird is building something of a legend when it comes to Naperville running. Hird proved once again she owns her hometown streets Sunday, crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes. She’s also won the Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon in 2014 and the Naperville Women’s Half Marathon in 2017.
Hird, who works at the Naperville Running Company, said she’s making a return to competition after recently giving birth to a son.
“In a really torturous way, it felt really good,” she said. “Running fast hurts, so you kind of have to get yourself in that mindset where it’s is going to hurt. But it’s worth it. That’s what we work for.”
It’s also nice that she lives right down the street from the starting line, she added.
Runners enjoyed mild weather, which harmonized with the trees displaying fall colors and the reflection of the sky and foliage in the DuPage River.
Race co-director Craig Bixler said 4,000 runners participated, up from 3,850 last year.
He said the community spirit makes the event special.
“Part of that is because we have a 5K at this one, which is much more accessible to everybody and it just adds a lot of energy to the event,” he said.
The presence of participants from local education foundations was strong, with representation from the Naperville Education Foundation and the Indian Prairie Education Foundation.
Edward-Elmhurst Health sponsored the event, with Edward Hospital President and CEO Joe Dant sounding the starting horn.
“Our mission is advancing the health of our communities, and it really shows that, as a sponsor for seven years in a row, we’re really focused on wellness and preventive medicine and overall health,” Dant said. “Not just taking care of people when they’re sick.”
Dant said Edward-Elmhurst’s presence at the event included 120 employees and patients running, as well as 30 volunteers manning the Gatorade and water station at Mile 12.
Nearby streets flowed with runners and cheering spectators, including Jessica Rauch of Winfield, rooting on her husband, Eric, as her 4-year-old daughter Madeline watched nearby on her Northern Illinois Huskies blanket.
The 5K portion of the event proved a family event for Nicole Hobson of Indianapolis, who pushed her children Brody, 2½ months, and Emilia, almost 2, in strollers.