BEVERLY — Organizers of the 37th annual Ridge Run are asking runners and walkers not to run home after this year's race.
The 10K and 5K events draw upward of 2,500 participants yearly to Ridge Park at 1817 W. 96th St. Nearly as many volunteers and enthusiastic supporters gather for the race along the tree-lined streets of Beverly beginning at 8 a.m. every Memorial Day.
But once the races have been run, everyone heads home to shower.
That means the bulk of the crowd misses out on Chicago's oldest continuous running Memorial Day parade, according to Grace Kuikman, director of communications for the Beverly Area Planning Association.
The Beverly Hills/Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony immediately follows the race. The parade steps off at 10:30 a.m. from 110th Street and Longwood Drive and travels north to Ridge Park.
In years past, marchers have arrived at the park to find it mostly cleared out. The 2014 parade committee hopes to buck this trend. They held a fundraiser on April 26 to pay to bring a band to the parade. Organizers are also using a banner contest as a way to recruit schools to participate in the event.
"This parade has been going on for decades, and it's always been a smaller parade because it's on a residential street and early in the day," Kuikman said, comparing the Memorial Day parade to Beverly's signature South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Nevertheless, the parade committee's latest effort seems to have paid off. About 40 groups will march in the parade this year — double the number of participants from 2013, Kuikman said.
Meanwhile, the Ridge Run is seeing a boost from dedicated runners who sign on for the Ridge Run Challenge 10K and 5K. The planning association officially has been been offering runners the chance to complete in the back-to-back races since 2011, Kuikman said.
"We found that the Ridge Run took a hit from the downtown, 10-mile race on Memorial Day weekend. Serious runners want the extra challenge. So, the Ridge Run opened up a new option," she said.
Fewer than 20 people signed up for the challenge its first year. Registration for the 2014 race has already topped 75 and is expected to reach 100 on race day, Kuikman said.
Advance packet pickup and in-person registration for the Ridge Run is available through Sunday at Ridge Park. Same-day registration for the Ridge Run is also available for an added fee. Details are available on the planning association's Web site.
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