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"Will It Play in Peoria?" The Inaugural Peoria Heights Half Marathon

June 30, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 198

The inaugural Peoria Heights Half Marathon on March 31, 2012, was a great race. Why was this race so wonderful? Among other factors, there was beautiful scenery at every bend of the river, high-quality technical t-shirts in our goody bags, and tasty food and cold beer afterwards! Who could ask for anything more?

This was the first year of the Peoria Heights Half Marathon, presented by TNT's Sports Bar & Grill and Running Central. My husband and I signed up on a whim at the last moment, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Well, not quite every minute: the time we spent before the actual race start was not so pleasant, since we had not prepared for the cold weather. Lulled into a sense of complacency by the unseasonably warm temperatures earlier that week, we both chose to wear running gear that was too light for the mid-40 temperatures on that Saturday morning in late March.

To stay warm before the race, we quickly signed the race liability waivers, grabbed our race bibs and goody bags, and dashed back to our car. We cranked up the car heater and covered up with layers of beach towels. The long-sleeved Nike technical t-shirts we'd just received came in handy, providing an extra layer against the cold when we ventured out of our warm car a few minutes before the 8:00 a.m. start time. Crowds of other shivering runners circulated frenetically around the starting corral, trying to stay warm. Some, like my husband, were wearing shorts and sleeveless tops, and regretting it bitterly. Some, like me, had worn long running tights but had added more layers in the car at the last minute.

We all warmed up quickly as soon as we started running this hilly 13.1 mile course. The start and finish line was on Marietta Avenue, in front of the new Running Central store. Much of the course snaked along a bluff overlooking the Illinois River valley, which gave lovely vistas on this spring morning. The mansions lining the course were beautiful as well, surrounded by large, carefully manicured lawns with blooming ornamental fruit trees. The course would be described as very hilly in spots, and decidedly gently rolling over all. I definitely felt the strain in my legs the next day. Although the sun did not make an appearance until late in the morning, I was totally distracted by the loveliness of this race course.

The last and most satisfying aspect of the race was the finish line post-race food and music. The temperature was warming up, the music was pleasantly loud, and cans of ice cold lo-carb beer were handed out to anyone with an ID. The beer made a great companion to drink with the large slices of spicy pizza and steaming hot bowls of soup. Running Central opened its doors for anyone who wanted to do a little post-race browsing amongst their running shoes and gear. The sun broke out as we pulled away in our car afterwards, and I was completely happy with this beautiful little half marathon. I'll definitely be registering us in advance for next year's race, and I encourage anyone in Peoria or central Illinois to do the same!

Ramona Swanberg runs marathons, ultra-marathons, and half-marathons for fun and fitness. Twenty years of running on the solitary prairie trails of Illinois has given her lots of time to think about running. Find a wealth of running tips and sports watches at

Source: EzineArticles
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Half Marathons


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Peoria Heights Half Marathon


Illinois River Valley Running

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