‘Niche’ marathon offers direct path to Boston

“It’s not a huge race in terms of numbers but in terms of impact, the event has a very high impact in the running community,” Sheble said.

Runners who achieve times 5 minutes or more below their Boston Marathon qualifying times will be able to register for Boston at a kiosk by the finish line immediately after the race. Since Saturday also is the first day runners are permitted to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon – an “unexpected bonus,” organizers say – the BQ.2 race gives runners the possibility of qualifying both for the 2015 and 2016 Boston races.

The makeup of Saturday’s field is drastically different than the traditional Fox Valley fields. Sheble said about 87 percent of the Fox Valley participants are from Illinois, while less than 50 percent of the BQ.2 field will be in-state competitors as aspiring Boston runners from around the country seek a last chance to qualify.

Still, some overlap between the events is evident to Sheble, namely the community backing. Sheble said a couple from Batavia attended an organizational meeting offering to set up a misting station to cool off runners near their home.

“I love that,” Sheble said. “It just shows people are paying attention. They love the fact this niche race, this qualifying race, is coming right to their backyards.”