With their capes wiping behind them, around 400 people ran “the Midwest’s Most Beautiful Half Marathon Course” in the HERO 10k and Half Marathon that traveled through the Indiana Dunes State Park.
This is the second year running for the unique race, split up between a 10k and a half marathon. Organizers ask runners to dress in superhero gear in order to keep the "hero" theme alive. The idea for a themed run through the Dunes State Park got started when Race Director Crystal Sands figured that it was about time to have a race through the scenic area.
“There was no long distance run at the Dunes State Park and I’ve lived here for eight years. I absolutely love the beach, I love the area and it’s definitely the gem of Northwest Indiana, and we decided that a longer run would be perfect here,” Sands explained. “The plans took off from there and we wanted to pick a theme that no one else had thought of in the area and that’s when the hero theme came up.”
Besides the hero theme, the biggest draw to the race was the scenic location. Sands went on to say that she believes that having a fall run is what attracted the runners noting, “I think the location is key. This park is so scenic, so gorgeous and with this run you get to see the wetlands, the beach, and what most of the park has to offer.”
Brandt Baughman, the Property Manager for the Indiana Dunes State Park, was more than happy to agree. “We’re proud to showcase all that we have to offer here. Taking a run through the park is one of the best ways to see the Dunes, and by having this run we really get to showcase all of it. I couldn’t imagine a better place for runners flock to than here,” he said.
The word has definitely gotten out that the HERO 10k and Half Marathon is one of the great runs in the region. The numbers grew this year to 406 registered participants, and some of those runners weren’t from the region. Blanca Marcano, who traveled from Michigan to take a part in the 10k race, said that this race stood out from the others.
“The hero theme really drew me in, it’s really creative and different. There's absolutely wonderful scenery out there, and I’m not a competitive runner so I just enjoyed myself out there,” Marcano said. “For not being a really active runner I think I did well, I’m happy with my time and the time I spent here.”
Some of the attracted runners, of course, were the ones that are experienced with marathons. Brent Ksenak is one of those people, and he placed first in his age division and won the overall title for the Half Marathon. “The course was nice, it was really peaceful and very quick,” Ksenak explained.
He also said that he’s already made this a destination for next year. “I’ll definitely do it next year, definitely. It was a lot of fun and it was exactly how it was advertised - by being really wonderful,” said Ksenak.
After the athletes crossed the finish line, they were each handed a special Superman-inspired medal, and then were welcome to various drinks and food to keep them satisfied. There was also an awards ceremony for first, second, and third place for every age division for the 10k and half marathon.
In the end the Hero 10k and Half Marathon gave exactly what their runners wanted - a beautiful atmosphere and a chance to make fun out of an everyday activity. The race will make it’s appearance once again next fall, but for now it’s easy to say that the second annual HERO event was a real great way to spend a Sunday - in costume or not.