Belleville

Belleville marathon underway; use alternate routes

Belleville's first marathon is Saturday

On Saturday morning runners will take to one of America's longest Main Streets to compete in Belleville's first marathon. Organizers Mike Toolen, with 35 marathons to his credit, and Sarah West, of the Belleville Running Club, discuss what to expe
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On Saturday morning runners will take to one of America's longest Main Streets to compete in Belleville's first marathon. Organizers Mike Toolen, with 35 marathons to his credit, and Sarah West, of the Belleville Running Club, discuss what to expe

Mike Toolen has run 35 marathons but he won’t be running in the inaugural Belleville Main Street Marathon on Saturday.

Instead, Toolen and more than 550 volunteers will work to support the runners who will brave the 26.2 mile route. He said 190 runners have pre-registered for the run and a handful of people may register on Saturday morning.

This has been a community effort and we are constantly saying, ‘Wow,’ to the support we have received.

Sarah West, co-director of the Belleville Main Street Marathon

Toolen, who is co-director of the marathon and owner of Toolen’s Running Start in Shiloh, said safety of the runners is the No. 1 priority.

“We’ve got a lot of volunteers,” Toolen said. “We’ve got a lot of support for the race.”

Toolen said 310 volunteers will work on traffic control, 190 volunteers will staff 15 water stations covering every mile of the race and 55 medical volunteers will provide first aid.

“This has been a community effort and we are constantly saying, ‘Wow,’ to the support we have received,” race co-director Sarah West said in a news release.

Belleville is known for having one of the longest Main Streets in the country and race organizers want to use the marathon to showcase this fact.

Here’s what you need to know about the marathon:

What are the hours?

The run starts at 7 a.m. and the course officially closes at 2 p.m.

What is the route?

The marathon starts and ends at Main and First streets in downtown Belleville. The route hits the Signal Hill neighborhood to the west and Southwestern Illinois College to the east.

Almost all roads will remain open during the event, except for the first three blocks of West Main Street, which will be closed from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lane restrictions primarily will take place on the right lane of West Main Street from the Public Square to 95th Street to about 11 a.m. The westbound lane of Third Street from the MetroLink bike trail to Main Street also will be closed.

The course includes 45th Street, North Belt West, 95th Street, Signal Hill Boulevard and McKinley Garden but no portion of those roads will be closed.

What can residents do?

Belleville residents are asked to take note of the route and plan alternative routes around the race course.

Residents also are asked to get out and cheer the runners.

“We’re trying to make their one and a half mile experience in Signal Hill memorable,” said Barb Ducey, president of the Signal Hill Neighborhood Association. “We’ve encouraged everyone to come out.”

We will cheer very hard for these people because we are so impressed with how long they train.

Barb Ducey, president of the Signal Hill Neighborhood Association

Ducey said residents will put up signs and play music to urge the runners.

“We will cheer very hard for these people because we are so impressed with how long they train,” Ducey said. “We’re just so excited to meet people who will actually do this. It’s a thrill for us to be a part of this.”

What’s the weather forecast?

Temperatures are expected to be warmer than normal for this time of the year so race organizers are reminding runners to stay hydrated. The high is expected to 91 under sunny skies. When the run starts, the temperature is predicted to be 68.

“We’re going to have plenty of water,” Toolen said.

Who benefits from the race?

Proceeds from the nonprofit event will benefit the Belleville Parks and Recreation Department and The BackStoppers, which supports families of St. Louis metropolitan area police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty or suffered a catastrophic injury. The Belleville Running Club and Toolen’s Running Start are coordinating the race.

How do runners rate the course?

The Belleville Main Street Marathon has been certified by USA Track and Field as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon that will feature about 24,000 runners next spring.

Where can I get more information?

Go to www.bellevillemarathon.com/ or to the Belleville Main Street Marathon Facebook page.

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