I am calling this the race to the race.
Organizers of the ninth Southwest Half Marathon and 10K event announced Friday that because of a late switch in sponsorship from First Midwest Bank to CNB Bank and Palos Community Hospital and some software/website changes and issues, only 375 people have registered for the event.
That sounds like a pretty puny number to me.
Last year at this time, race committee members were smiling and all but turning cartwheels on their tables when they announced that 922 athletes signed up.
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer in all of this but it sounds like this year’s event could struggle to hit four figures. Co-race director Jeff Prestinario said it has drawn as low as 900 to as high as 2,100 over the years. Last year, more than 1,700 athletes participated.
I am thinking that people who register early are those who plan their running seasons well in advance and the Palos event may have lost out on the 500 or so who may have made alternate plans for the May 1 running of the two races.
Prestinario, however, is not worried. He said he did his worrying a few months ago when it appeared there would be no sponsor.
“But somehow, someway, we are doing it again,” he announced at Friday’s first committee meeting for the races at the Palos Heights Rec Center.
After the meeting, he said he understood why the numbers were down and expected them to rise.
“It’s still early,” he said. “It still January. We had a delay in getting the information out. I’m not really worried. We’re somewhat behind but we think we will do better moving forward.’’
Jennifer Taylor of the Chicago Special Events Management team, which runs huge races all across the country, said that these low figures were still higher than those in January, 2014. By February, the registration figures swelled to more than 700.
“I don’t think we have anything to worry about,’’ Taylor said.
Here is hoping they are right.
To me, it looks there will be a hard race ahead just to hit four figures.
To register, the new website is southwesthalfmarathon.com.
Staying busy in retirement
Former St. Laurence football and baseball coach and Stagg athletic director Bob Fabrizio is now on the half marathon committee.
He retired from Stagg after the 2013-14 season -- if you could call it retirement.
“I have some volunteer things that I do that I find very, very rewarding,” he said. “I play golf on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Jeff (Prestinario) and he asked me to join this committee and help out with the volunteers.
“I taught a class at Trinity Christian College last spring. I worked at Shepard High School for the first six weeks as an athletic director when their athletic director (Curry Gallagher) had a medical problem. There is no shortage of things to do, believe me.’’
The Orland Park resident said he had never been to the half marathon before.
“I’m a rookie,” he said. “I heard it’s a lot of work but I have time and I have energy and that’s what it’s all about. It’s nice to see people from the community come together and it’s a great thing for the city and south suburbs.’’
Learned something new
I’ve covered this bad boy three times and never knew that the turnaround point of the half marathon was actually located in Lemont.
Insert your own Palos Park joke, here.