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Virtual Illinois Marathon Recap!!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Illinois I-challange (5K and Half Marathon) race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Nothing beats the anticipation of race weekend! As runners we train for months to run a distance or pace and as that date on the calendar gets closer the anticipation and excitement (and maybe nerves!) grow with it! By now we all know that anticipation was halted for just about all running events starting in March and most events have had to find alternatives to hosting in person races.

The Illinois Marathon is held yearly in Champaign/Urbana, IL and was originally scheduled to be held April 23-25 2020. This was to be my first in person race as a BibRave Pro and boy was I hyped. Champaign/Urbana was a place that our family had visited several times in my youth and I was excited to tour the town on foot. (I recommend going to the races YouTube channel and watching the video of the course preview. It is absolutely beautiful!) Another thing that drew me to this race is that the 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon all finish on the 50 yard line at Memorial Stadium! I have never ran a race that finished on a football field and I was really looking forward to this!

Due to Covid, the Illinois Marathon made the decision to go virtual for 2020. Runners had the option to complete their race virtually or to defer their registration to 2021. Choosing to run a race virtually that you had planned to run in person is a great way to support that race during these difficult times but also helps the race directors continue to support the charities that they support with these events! Personally it’s also a great way to stay disciplined and motivated to keep training. (And while I may find that I am not as competitive during these times, I am finding that I am enjoying running and training in new ways!)

I ran my virtual I-challenge on June 26th and June 27th. (I didn’t run it immediately after the cancellation of the April date because there was some thought that the race may be rescheduled for the Fall but ultimately that was not able to happen) I ran the 5K Friday evening staying true to how the challenge timeline would occur in person but I did run this race on the treadmill because the temperature outside was 91 plus humidity! Luckily in Indiana where I live, gyms have been open since May 22nd with social practicing guidelines in place. My 5K time was 27:14 which isn’t a PR but compared to some of my recent times it is a very good time and I’m very happy with it!

The next morning I set out to run the Illinois Virtual Half Marathon. I don’t know how many other runners got their very own bike escort my my sweet husband rode his bike along with me and also ended up carrying my hydration vest as well. I normally wear it without issue but it was just so humid and everything felt heavy. As the miles ticked off, there did seem to be more of a breeze which made things better and it threatened to rain so many times! I would feel misting of rain drops here and there and really the rain would have felt good at any point but the skies waited to open up until we were safely back on our front porch. How is that for timing??

I tried to imagine myself on the course (I went back and watched the course video on YoutTube before running!) and finishing on Memorial Field! I hope that in the future I get to experience the course in person and the whole family gets to join me! I know the kids would love to get to run on the field as well and the Illinois Marathon offers a kids run that would allow them that opportunity!

After completing the 13.1 miles, we were still a mile from home. Anybody else have to get their shoes off pretty quickly when they are done running? I usually have a pair of sandals etc in a backpack that my husband will have at the finish line for me for the walk back to the car but bc I assumed the finish line would be our front door (I a misjudged the distance) I had to make the walk back home in my socks!

I should be receiving my Illinois Marathon swag soon and I will be sharing all about it on my social media pages so make sure you are following me on Instagram and Twitter at @lish_loves_life because you are not going to want to miss that!

I know this is not how any of us runners saw our 2020 race season going and with NYC and Berlin announcing the cancellation of their 2020 marathons this week it’s something we are learning to accept. But it is also something we are learning to adapt to. When we can’t race in the way we are used to we are finding ways to make the best of the situation. I keep telling myself that these times will make the comebacks even sweeter and I truly believe that!


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