Nike announced on Friday that for the first time ever, a high school invitational meet will take place during the Oct. 11 Chicago Marathon on the race-day course. While the marathon's 35,000-plus actual (45,00 registered) runners race through the streets of Chicago, approximately 300 high school athletes from local schools will compete in their own event: the Nike Northside/Southside Challenge at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
The event marks the first time a World Marathon Major will feature high school athletes competing in an invitational meet, on the race-day course, while the marathon is in progress. Many of you remember that Boston had invitational miles for local preps this year, but that was the day before the marathon.
The Nike Northside/Southside Challenge will take place on the final 2.62 miles of the Chicago course starting at 31st and Michigan and will end at the marathon finish line on Columbus. It has been approved by the Illinois High School Association according to Nike officials.
Co-hosted by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Nike and Whitney Young High School, the Challenge will take place on the final 2.62 miles of the course after the marathon officially begins. The boys’ competition will start at 7:40 a.m., followed by the girls’ at 7:45 a.m.
"Nike is inspiring the next generation of runners by giving them the experience of racing in the footsteps of their running heroes," said Reg Hamlett, general manager of Nike's central territory. "The Northside/Southside Challenge is a ground-breaking way to bring a new energy to a preeminent marathon."
“In hosting the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, an event that draws 45,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators to the city streets, we have a unique opportunity to impact the Chicago community in large ways,” said Tim Maloney, Illinois State and Chicago Market President for Bank of America. “The addition of this high school event furthers that impact by providing a first-ever opportunity for local high school athletes to compete on a grand stage.”
High school teams from the Chicagoland area will be invited to compete in the Northside/Southside Challenge by Whitney Young coach Robert Geiger. Each team will be designated as either “Northside” or “Southside,” based on their geographic location, and will be grouped together to be coached by Nike elite athletes pre-race, to receive last-minute pointers and motivational advice.
Individual and team winners will be named for both boys and girls. In addition, based on the cumulative times of their runners, either “Northside” or “Southside” will be designated as the winner of the 2009 Challenge.