A recent opinion piece in the Peoria Journal Star is riling up some runners in Central Illinois.
Following the Whiskeydaddle races in Peoria this past weekend that included a half marathon as well as a full marathon, Columnist Phil Luciano vented his frustrations over the traffic tie-ups the race caused downtown, and questioned why the race couldn’t move to the city’s outskirts.
“Start on an edge of Peoria, have the runners head 13.1 miles out of town, then come back. Easy-peasy. Would this be any different for the runners? No. It’d still be 26.2 miles. But it’d be a heck of a lot easier on motorists and pedestrians trying to get around Peoria,” shared Luciano in the piece.
But it was a piece that apparently isn’t sitting well with the local running community, with the article being shared on numerous local running groups’ social media pages.
Race Co-Director Brad Henz shared the article in a post on his Facebook page, garnering plenty of support from race participants and fellow runners.
For example, Nicole Dickerson said, “If Chicago can deal with the inconveniences of a marathon, I think Peoria should be able to handle it.”
Sarah Gruber, apparently a spectator, shared, “We love having the race down Moss Ave. The runners are so polite and I can’t even tell you how many thanked us for being out there.”
And Rebecca Nielsen shared, in part, “Obviously Phil doesn’t care that people who come in from out of town will spend money in our town and help Peoria out!”
Henz’ Co-Director Adam White said this year saw an almost 30% increase in runners, with 2,450 total participants in the the combined races from Saturday and Sunday. He also says more than 400 of those runners came from outside Central Illinois, many of them staying in hotels for anywhere from 1 to 3 nights. As for the race course itself, White says they planned the route this year as they do every year with the help of Peoria Police and Peoria Public Works.
He adds that authorities and First Responders he spoke to immediately after the race thought the event went well, as did most residents living along the race path, especially those living near Bradley University in the Uplands Neighborhood where it’s become a tradition for people to gather and host parties on front porches to cheer on the passing runners.
“The majority of those residents got behind this full force and look forward to it. So you get a few people whose opinions are sad, short-sighted, unfortunate, and selfish, is not a reason to let a fraction of the minority of the community rain on everyone else’s parade.”
White adds that they are committed to bringing the race back next year and have already opened registration for 2019: https://register.chronotrack.com/r/44270
To read the full Peoria Journal Star article: https://www.pjstar.com/news/20181008/luciano-why-must-road-races-be-held-on-peorias-streets