While much has remained the same, some things that have changed in 15 years of Reagan Running:
• Our course, although always a similar route – starts at the Reagan Home, north on Hennepin through downtown Dixon, across the Galena Avenue bridge, around Dixon High School and through the woods on the bluff, then back across Peoria Bridge, and finishes at Haymarket Square Park – is what you call a flexible course.
We have consistently kept it a 5K course (3.1 miles), but we have adjusted and adapted to bridge replacement, street renovation, an increased number of runners, better opportunities for the race, and still kept the same basic design of first mile street, middle mile wooded trail, last mile street, over the 15 years.
Originally, we tried our best to avoid Galena and limit our use of Peoria, but as we grew, and as the city improved its infrastructure, we created a more downtown Dixon-oriented venue. We tried to show off the improvements and highlight our downtown. Thank you, City of Dixon – you’re a wonderful host.
• The participant numbers have grown from the inaugural race of 300-plus runners, to more than 1,600 participants last year. It’s gone from an easily managed summer fun run, to a mass of serious contenders with runners, enthusiastic joggers, and walkers.
The organizational challenges grow, but our committee has always found willing volunteers and local assistance to meet the changes. We had runners from 37 states and four counties running in last year’s event. It’s a nice way to experience the Rock River Valley.
• The Fun Run for the kids is in its 14th year. It has produced so many graduates that have moved up to the full 5K race. It would be fun to have tracked some of the early youngsters and discovered if they felt the Fun Run was a stepping stone to running the big event, competing, having fun, and to running regularly.
Regardless, it’s too cool – and very inspiring – to see 300-plus youngsters roaring down Hennepin hill, swinging by the old South Central School, and twisting their way into Haymarket Square. Every participant gets a medal and lots of congratulations for a fine effort. Then they can stick around and watch the finish of the main event.
This year, the Kids Run crew has been working on a GO FAR program, which consists of a Tuesday & Thursday training run 8 weeks prior to the event.
The program incorporates character-building, good eating, and health discussions with the kids. KSB and Dixon Family YMCA have co-sponsored this new aspect of the Kids Run, in conjunction with the GO FAR program.
• We’ve seen some milestones in Dixon running history since the RR5K was started ... coincidence? Not too long ago, Dixon High had its first-ever cross county state champs. And this past track season, the DHS girls 4x400 relay team set a school record at the state meet. Congratulations to both; we hope the running bug may have bit at the RR5K, but if not, we sure hope you’ll join our fun event, too.
• We created an event within an event with the corporate challenge, to inspire community business participation, camaraderie, and fitness, while still challenging the competitive teams to meet head on, mano-a-mano.
Local companies are encouraged to have 5 of their employees team up to match their combined race times with all the other corporate challengers. It’s a friendly competition, but I’ve noticed some serious contenders always eyeing last year’s crown holder.
• With the help of so many, we now have a fun and unique running event that does manage to give back. Thanks, and let’s keep up the string of record participation. Get registered and join in. Go to getmeregistered.com or www.reaganrun.com.