DeKalb – Enthusiasm for the 39th annual Corn Classic remained high despite the wet weather.
More than 620 runners gathered Sunday morning at the corner of Third and Franklin streets in downtown DeKalb for the start of the 5K/10K race.
Because of recent flooding, the original course was redirected to a 4-mile route for participants.
As runners completed their warmup stretches and jogs in the steady drizzle, spectators and volunteers huddled beneath awnings and bounced to the beat of pop song remixes playing over a loudspeaker, just to keep warm.
“Runners are used to rain – it is what it is, we’re in northern Illinois,” said Cohen Barnes, president of the 2019 Corn Classic Board of Directors. “So we came up with a really cool 4-mile course, and now everyone gets to run across Huskie Stadium. The marching band’s playing, the steel band’s playing. It’s still an awesome course.”
Undeterred by his lack of a megaphone, Barnes led the race participants in a verbal 10-second countdown to the starting gun and runners took off amid the sounds of cheers and cowbells from friends, family and about 250 Northern Illinois University student-athlete volunteers. The race started about 8:30 a.m.
“[Our team] tries to get 20 hours of volunteering a semester,” said freshman Mikkaela Palmer, an NIU cross country and track and field athlete. “The weather could be better but it’s still a great day to be out here.”
While runners crossed the finish line, race volunteers congratulated them with cold water bottles and directions to post-race results, medals and free bananas.
Brendan Eddington, 8, of Downers Grove, placed first in the male division for ages 14 and younger with a time of 27.05.21. It was his first race.
“I’ve never done it before,” he said. “The course was really fun. I liked the stadium.”
Eddington ran the race with his father and 11-year-old sister, Lily, who has experience running 5Ks and 10Ks. Lily also placed first in her age bracket, with a time of 28.52.83.
The DeKalb Corn Classic attracted runners of all levels of experience, not just novices.
“I’ve done about a hundred marathons. All 50 states,” said Richard Mangold of Ottawa, who is planning on running the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on Sunday.
Mangold has run the Corn Classic in the past, but not since the route shifted to include more of the NIU campus and downtown DeKalb.
“It was a hundred times better than the other one. We got to run by the stadium, run through the campus – I’m an NIU grad, so, it was good to see,” he said.
Although some runners headed home after their rainy race, others stayed around for the post-race celebration and Taste of DeKalb in Van Buer Plaza for free beer provided by Fatty’s Pub and Grill.
The first overall finisher and winner of a $100 prize was 32-year-old Chris Cebula of Chicago with a chip time of 21.05.51. The first female finisher and winner of a $100 prize was 27-year-old Jacki Mateas of Brimfield with a time of 25.37.75.
In addition to a bounce house and face painting for kids, visitors had access to food and beverages provided by DeKalb vendors such as Open Door Coffee and Barb City Bagels.
Event proceeds went towards the Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary Community Grant for Children, Youth and Families of DeKalb County.
“Our goal is to get as many people as we can to come and see DeKalb and see the university,” Barnes said. “NIU has been an incredible partner in pulling this off. The fire department, the park district – this really is a community and university event.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle