The importance of community and the quest for greatness were recurring themes of a Thursday, May 25, TBK Bank Quad Cities Marathon gathering to celebrate the 26th annual competition and introduce new sponsors, cash prizes and events.
Among additions to the Sept. 23-24 weekend – announced at the news conference at Bettendorf’s Crawford Brew Works – is a new XPAC 10K. It‘s a point-to-point race that will feature cash awards for top finishers.
The 10K is a rolling start race that begins on Arsenal Island where runners can join the marathon through the island and finish in downtown Moline. The three-hour window for the race begins at 7:15 a.m. and buses will again be available all day courtesy of MetroLINK to get runners to event starting lines.
The new race also is designed to fit into a multiple-event runner’s schedule. For example, athletes can add the XPAC 10K to the 5K, half marathon, marathon relay, or even the full marathon, according to the marathon website.
QC Marathon Race Director Joe Moreno lauded MetroLINK for once again making multiple events for individual runners possible by providing buses to ferry runners where they need to go.
“If you go to other marathons throughout the county and you participate in their relay you’re going to provide your own transportation to and from those transition areas,” Mr. Moreno said.
The metropolitan mass transit authority has been involved for all of the marathon’s 26 years, said Jennifer Hirsch, manager of administration at MetroLINK. But that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been big changes.
“We have 10 different buses and 26 years ago people were probably riding around in smelly diesels, but I got to tell you they are going to be riding on battery electric buses this year,” she said to a round of applause. “So Joe can talk about how sustainable his marathon is now.”
Also new in 2023, courtesy of Rock Valley Physical Therapy, is a free 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., June 28, Running Symposium to help get athletes ready for the marathon events. Guest speakers will offer advice to help runners optimize their performance. The symposium will be held at Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Moline location at 840 43rd Ave., Suite 300.
“This is for everybody from the first-time runner to the experts … and in between,” Danny Fleener of Rock Valley told Thursday’s crowd of supporters and media.
In addition, Mr. Fleener announced that for the first time cash prizes totaling $2,000 will be awarded for the top three finishers in the Half-Marathon Relay it already sponsors.
Also at the 2023 Quad Cities Marathon, a number of old favorites and longtime sponsors have returned as well as ways to donate to the community via the marathon weekend.
Mr. Moreno, who cooked up the race some 27 years ago, said “We do some very good things. We use our platform for the good of the community in many, many ways.”
Direct community impact from the QC Marathon includes, for example:
- Zero Cancer: $100,000 has been donated to the prostate prevention program.
- Shoes for Kids: 260 pairs of shoes were donated in 2022, and since 2018 when the marathon first got involved, more than 1,500 kids received new pairs of shoes via the race.
- Guest bartender series. That partnership with Crawford Brew Works raised over $15,000 for the community.
- The Charity Bibs Program which allows runners to join the team of a local nonprofit, and commit to a fundraising goal set by the Quad Cities Marathon. Charity Bib runners – who “Run for a Reason” can raise funds for 11 QC Marathon charities.
Also on Thursday, John DeDoncker, the retired president of TBK Bank, was among the race stalwarts on hand to celebrate the race and its sponsors, including ones added this year.
The combination of new and old faces is important, said Mr. DeDoncker who called himself chief running officer and an ambassador of TBK.
“When you don’t bring new blood into an organization they get stagnant,” he said, quipping, “We have a lot of great sponsors that have been on this road with us for a long time … but once you’re in the family, you don’t get out.”
The value and impact of running also was a key element of Thursday’s festivities when several sponsors and area leaders referenced the new film “Air.”
Dave Herrell, president and CEO of Visit Quad Cities, said Thursday’s event reminded him of the story of excellence in a film centered on running and Nike’s Phil Knight and basketball great Michael Jordan.
“I think you’ve got a lot of people who are passionate about making this a wonderful place to live and work and visit and play and experience and invest and thrive,” he said. “If you want to be a great community, you need to have great events and this event is a great event.”
Sponsors, both new and old, help make that happen, he and marathon leaders said. Mr. Moreno, for example, encouraged Quad Citians to attend the marathon’s kickoff party which is set for Wednesday, Sept. 20. This year it will be sponsored for the first time by Ecogistics. Brenda Egel, the company’s director of operations, said that when the opportunity to be a sponsor in 2023 came up, Ecogistics jumped at the chance.
“Joe doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks it or runs it, I guess in Joe’s case,” she said. She cited, for example, the assistance Mr. Moreno offered to the volunteers who successfully worked last year to bring back a Quad Cities Harvest Festival to Milan. She called Mr. Moreno and the marathon itself “winners.”
“We want to align ourselves with winners and when I was watching ‘Air’ I was so jazzed,” Ms. Egel added. “Everything that Mr. Knight was doing in that story and Michael Jordan, they’re just winners and we want to be part of that and our company wants to be part of that and being a runner myself it’s just wonderful to be part of it.”
Also on tap in 2023 are the addition of autographed children’s books for the kids who run this year’s Happy Joe’s Kids Micro-Marathon. Thanks to the Edward Jones Company, each child will receive one of three books by Boston Marathon winner and current Director David McGillivray. He’s a friend of the QC Marathon, Mr. Moreno said urging attendees to look for a video coming to the website about the project.
Back again this year is the 2023 route that takes runners across the new bridge.
“Last year’s route was freaking awesome,” Mr. DeDoncker said. “Coming off the Arsenal bridge and hearing the roar and turning right, like wow, I don’t have to run away from the excitement, I get to run towards it.”
Mr. Moreno said, “I’ve been to many marathons throughout the United States and we have a wonderful thing going here, we really do.” But that doesn’t mean he’s not hungry for more.
“We want more community engagement,” he added. “We’re not done. We’re not satisfied with this. We want more organizations, more neighborhoods, more individuals to step up. More sponsors to get involved.”