Like the triumphant smile of a runner breaking the tape at the finish line, officials are beaming over the success of the first-ever Naperville Marathon.
Following two years of negotiation and planning, the event stepped off from the campus of North Central College at 7 a.m. Sunday.
The limit of 3,500 runners filled all registration spots in just 14 hours earlier this year, but there was plenty of room for people to become involved as spectators, volunteers or staff who lined 26.2 miles of Naperville streets.
The course took runners through city neighborhoods as well as Spring Brook and Green Valley trails on a chilly and breezy morning.
"It was a beautiful course, and it was a beautiful day out," said Jeff Purdom, who took first place in the half marathon event with a time of 1:14:14.
Just as with city events like Ribfest and Last Fling, organizing a marathon race requires partnerships and balancing costs. The Naperville Marathon set aside 600 registration spots to raise money for charity.
"We've raised for our charity partner program over $226,000 for 26 local charities, which is astounding," said race director Bob Hackett. "We were hoping to raise maybe $30,000."
The primary race sponsor, Edward Hospital, has taken the marathon race under wing, sending 63 affiliated runners to the event and raising $35,690.
"We are staunch believers in health, fitness and wellness, so we thought this really tied in with our philosophy of really trying to help our population be healthier and stronger," Edward-Elmhurst CEO Pamela Davis said.
The hospital also provided an army of volunteers including 16 physicians working at the medical tent and aid stations, 30 nurses and medical technicians, 12 physical therapists, five massage therapists and another 110 individuals who distributed water and sports drinks.
Kristi Lehner, of Sandwich, was a volunteer who switched from distance running to other sports after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"But I just had to be part of the running, somehow," Lehner said. "This is a way I can do that."
On a 40-degree Sunday morning, local resident Carol Phillips was bundled in an afghan, sitting on a lawn chair at curbside.
"My son is running in the race, and I'm here to support him," Phillips said. "I think this is good for our town. It's a good sport and this encourages other people to run."
Just ahead of runners on the race course rode volunteers from the Spokes bicycle shop who cleared the way.
"It was a beautiful run and bike ride," said Brenda Byrne of Shorewood, one of the riders. "The runners didn't notice the weather at all when they're running."
Within the pack of runners were other volunteers who carried signs indicating what pace they were keeping. Participants then kept up with that pacer if they had a goal of completing the race around a desired finishing time.
"Most people know from their training what pace they're going to run at," said Kris Hartner, owner of the Naperville Running Company, which provided the volunteer pacers. "Everyone has some idea of what race time they're going to run."
Officials held their breath when a scary moment occurred in the race.
"A gentleman had a heart attack at mile 5, which was right near a fire department station," said Hackett. "Fortunately, when he went down, he immediately was surrounded by four nurses who happened to be running the race. A park district cart was right there with defibrillator paddles, he was revived, taken to the hospital and is recovering fine."