Ottawa is full of can’t-miss events, and the 2015 Starved Rock Country Marathon and Half Marathon taking place on Saturday, May 16 is one of them. Only in its second year, the marathon is set to become a central Illinois favorite.

The Starved Rock Country Marathon and Half Marathon course embraces the breathtaking scenery of the Illinois River and the variety of landscapes in and around Starved Rock State Park. The 26.2-mile scenic course will begin along the waterfront in downtown Ottawa’s Washington Square and then take runners through South Ottawa onto Route 71, along the winding roadways through Starved Rock State Park. The runners will then cross over the Utica Bridge and head back to downtown Ottawa.

Not only is the course an homage to the illustrious history and beauty of Starved Rock Country, but the medals awarded for the marathon are also a tribute. Finishers of this year’s Starved Rock Country Marathon and Half Marathon will receive the Buffalo Finishers Medal, which gives a nod to Buffalo Rock State Park, one of the parks on the marathon route and a former military, trading and missionary post for the French. When the 2015 Buffalo Finishers Medal is joined with the 2014 medal and future 2016, 2017 and 2018 medals, the combination will form a puzzle showcasing the natural beauty and wonder of Starved Rock Country.

With Washington Square serving as the start and finish line, the Starved Rock Country Marathon and Half Marathon is expected to draw thousands of runners and spectators to downtown Ottawa on the day of the marathon. Spectators can watch runners take off at 7 a.m. and then explore the downtown area while awaiting the runners’ return. With its rich history and variety of shops and restaurants, Ottawa won’t disappoint.

People participating in the Starved Rock Country Marathon and Half Marathon are encouraged to stay in Ottawa the whole weekend and enjoy the marathon’s other festivities, including a Health and Fitness Expo on Friday, May 15. Ottawa also has a large offering of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy during their stay. We’ve highlighted our favorites in

Adventure to discover in the Ottawa, IL area, but there are many more to be found.

Come for the marathon, but stay for the memories.