Watch now: Hit the ground running in Decatur to celebrate the nation’s birthday | Family

DECATUR – Some people, from the youngest to the oldest, like to launch on the 4th of July.

“I do it to get my energy,” Joshua Leeper, 5, said of the joys of running. “I also have friends who run; I have a friend named Parker who runs with me.

The young Decatur athlete had plenty more company on Monday as more than 200 participants revved up their heart engines and headed down the highway for the Staley Run White & Blue event hosted by the Decatur Park District and sponsored by Primient.

Nine-year-old Justin Anders of Dawson finished well ahead of the field on Monday in the children’s race. He said he ran for fun and “exercise”.

Tony Reid

There was a half mile “tot trot” run for kids like Joshua that started at 7:30am and was followed at 8am by a 2 mile “fun run/walk” and a 5km for those who had a little more fireworks in their veins.

The events all started and ended outside the Splash Cove and Overlook Adventure Park facilities and the Park District made it easy to organize a family day and night out.

The entry fee for runners, for example, included the perfect way to cool off after sweating it out in the scorching heat: admission to Splash Cove from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

This is where veteran runner Kathleen Jensen of Harristown was heading after completing the 5K event. “I’m going to go to Splash Cove with some of my friends and enjoy it first and then the fireworks later,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome.”


Adult runners set off on Monday as part of the Staley Run White & Blue 4th of July celebrations. When they returned from their two-mile or 5k events, their race tickets included entry to Splash Cove for a welcome chill.

Tony Reid

The Park District partnered with the City of Decatur to stage the fireworks show that was scheduled to begin at dusk over Lake Decatur. And before that, Imagine That Band played at the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater while specials were offered at Scovill Zoo and Overlook Adventure Park.

Gabrielle Cliff, recreation supervisor for the park district, said the running part of the July festivities is a tradition that dates back about 40 years. She said as new facilities have become available they have been incorporated to give people of all ages a fun way to celebrate their nation’s birthday.

“We just have a lot to do this weekend, a lot of good stuff,” she added.

For those who are still having a hard time imagining doing anything other than running at the BBQ or cooler on July 4, diehard runners insist they’re missing something. Jensen, dressed in a red, white and blue outfit, said running was her shortcut to feeling better.


Why run when you can ride? On Monday, two young participants go with the flow in the two-mile Fun Run/Walk event hosted by the Decatur Park District.

Tony Reid

“It’s my sport, it’s my hobby, it’s my social life, it’s my therapy,” she explained. “And you feel really good when you’re there.”

Monday’s 5K was Jensen’s 1,202nd competitive run. She has run over 100 marathons, including one in all 50 states and every Canadian province as well.

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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