Dawn Van Buskirk loves the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.
Van Buskirk has been involved with the marathon since it started in 2009 when she worked at the Hilton Hotels in Champaign-Urbana.
The hotels hosted the elite runners. Van Buskirk worked to get rooms for the runners. After a few years, she was asked to join the race committee, which she has been on for seven years.
She then started volunteering at the Health and Fitness Expo.
“I enjoyed being in that role,” she said. “I got to see so many of my friends that were doing events in the races.”
Last year, Van Buskirk got a new title—Expo Director.
She is in charge of all aspects of the expo, with the help of the Expo Team.
This includes pre-sale for the booths, training volunteers, setting up the expo, arranging lunch for the expo booths, setting up and staffing the hospitality suite for expo participants and volunteers and moving out when the expo ends.
“We work with so many great volunteers over the four days of this event,” she said. “We could not do with without each and every one of them.”
This year the expo featured five guest speakers. These included Pace Leader Steve Schwalbach, US Olympian Craig Virgin, Jennifer Wilson, President of Vital Education, GP Pearlberg-Coach and Author and Chris Gillespie, Owner of Team 413.
Van Buskirk said the topics included race psychology and physicality, overcoming adversity in racing and life, mental and physical tips for not giving in and giving up.
Van Buskirk said that this expo is unique for a variety of reasons including the fact that anyone celebrating a birthday over race weekend gets a birthday pin. The expo team also does back bibs for anyone running their first half or full marathon.
Van Buskirk said the ideas for the expo come from the runners.
“We listen to our runners about what they like and what they didn’t love,” she said. “We try to make our race a better experience each and every year. Our goal is to be the best race so that the runners don’t want to miss it and plan to come back year after year.”
Van Buskirk said that Jan Seeley, the race co-director is a long time runner and also has wonderful ideas.
Van Buskirk said the marathon is a unique experience for runners due to the many different events they can participate in including a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or a full marathon. They can even be on a relay team. If runners do the 5K and then a race on Saturday they get three medals. The entire family can also participate in the Busey Kids Run that happens Saturday afternoon.
“Any race that they choose is a great course throughout C-U,” she said. “The marathon course especially is touted to be flat and fast which makes it great as a Boston Qualifier.”