Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) — Kelly Thrasher moved to Champaign in 2008 to manage the T.G.I. Fridays franchise in town. This is where she was first introduced to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.

Since the restaurant was walking distance from the finish line, she was able to serve runners who were desperate to re-fuel post race.

In 2014, Thrasher joined the Stadium View Hiltons, specifically the Homewood Suites, in the sales department.  The three Hiltons have been mile sponsors and partners with the Marathon throughout her tenure.  The hotels accommodate runners, serve pasta meals the Friday night of the 5K, and hand out complimentary fruit, bagels, and water on Saturday morning for those on the “run”. Seeing these runners during their stay inspired Thrasher.

So in 2016, Thrasher walked the Christie Clinic 5K, pregnant with her now 3-year-old son.  He has continued to join her year after year in the 5K. And Thrasher has now participated in the 10K in the last two years as well.

After her first year participating she decided she wanted to be more involved as a volunteer.  She has since been a Hilton Mile Marker cheering fellow participants on, helped set up the race expo, and joined the food and beverage team at Memorial Stadium.  She proudly dons her race shirts and hoodie every chance she gets.

Thrasher wants people to know that the race isn’t just for the hardcore runners:

“We walkers love the experience and diversity that CU brings to the table as well.  It is a joy to commune with other locals and the travelers the Marathon brings in to showcase our community in all its glory!  I hope to continue my involvement and have my son follow suit as he grows.”