Gary unveils plan to host marathon in Marquette Park
BY CHRISTIN NANCE LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org October 15, 2013 5:10PM
Updated: November 17, 2013 6:30AM
GARY — Tom Taylor was running with friends in January in the Miller neighborhood when he had a thought.
The city should host a marathon to show off the renovation of Marquette Park.
“They all had the same response: ‘In Gary?’,” Taylor said.
Taylor, the founder of Cause 2 Compete, took the idea to the city and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson — though admittedly not a runner — loved the idea.
After nine-plus months of planning, Freeman-Wilson announced Tuesday that the city will host the “Dawn of the Dunes” marathon, half-marathon and 5K on Oct. 27 at Marquette Park. Majestic Star Casino and the Methodist Hospitals Foundation are serving as sponsors.
“I won’t be participating as a runner, but I will be on hand as an excited spectator,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Taylor said the race will be as environmentally sustainable as possible, such as by focusing on web advertising and using recycled materials — participants’ medals will be made of 80-percent recycled steel.
The formal announcement was to occur about a month ago, but city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington said they first wanted to secure the necessary permits — such as closing a stretch of U.S. 12.
Cost to enter is $25. The start-finish line will be right in front of Marquette Park Pavilion and race routes will take runners east into residential neighborhoods. Runners in the 5K will head east to Randolph Street; half-marathon and marathon runners will go to County Line Road, with marathoners running two loops on the course. Roads will be closed from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day, and Marquette Park will close at midnight Saturday.
Gary Community School Corp. will provide parking at nearby schools, including Wirt/Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts and Marquette Elementary School.
City officials expect 500 participants and 500 spectators. Safety is obviously a concern in light of the Boston Marathon bombing in April and Gary’s crime rate. Gary Police Cmdr. Pete Sormaz and Assistant Fire Chief Mark Everette said there will be an increased police presence during the event, including plainclothes undercover officers in the crowd and bomb-sniffing dogs. Participants and spectators will have bags and any other items searched as they enter the course.
“We take these matters very seriously,” Sormaz said. “This will be a safe event, a fun event and a family event. Right now, there are no threats to the event.”
During the race, the city will receive assistance on calls in other parts the city from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Lake Station and other departments.
Registration and race maps are available at dunesmarathon.com. Or prospective entrants can call 395-4503. Organizers will be accepting runners up until the start of the marathon at 7:30 a.m. An awards brunch will follow the race at the Marquette Park Pavilion and tickets are $20.
The Gary Parks Department is putting together a fundraising team, which —in exchange for free admission to the race — is helping raise money to reopen public pools in city parks for 2014.
Parks Superintendent Lori Peterson Latham said the city hopes the event is a success.
“Whatever it is you want to do, you can do it in the park,” Latham said. “It will also show people that we can coordinate large-scale events with the backdrop of Lake Michigan.”