Nearly 5,000 runners and wheelchair racers will converge on downtown Peoria Saturday for the 41st annual Steamboat Classic. That's right -- wheelchair racers.
"We could see some times out of the wheelchair racers that could be under 13 minutes for four miles," according to Race Director Phil Lockwood. "Most people can't ride their bike that fast."
There will still be elite, world-class runners in this year's event, but not as many. Lockwood says there are financial reasons behind that, besides a renewed focus on getting the community involved.
"We're encouraging people to get up off the couch and get moving," Lockwood says. "After this winter that never wanted to quit, it's even more of a challenge."
"We'll have 5,000 people participating in the races, but if you ask me I'd rather see 50,000," explains Lockwood. "We're tied to the car and the desk and the screen, we really need have to physical activity as a part of one's lifestyle."
This is Lockwood's 21st year as Race Director. But this time around, it's personal.
"We have a whole group of people called 'Ken's Team'," says Lockwood. "My dad passed away a couple of months ago and so we'll have a huge group of friends and family here. So, I'll be actually participating in the morning, too, in the 4k."
The wheelchair race will start the day at 6:55 a.m. Saturday on Main Street near South Side Bank. That's also where the 4 mile and 15k races will start at 7:00 a.m.
The 4k race begins at 8:00 a.m. on Hamilton Blvd. near Kelly Seed.