Bud James, race director for the Park Forest Scenic 10, announced this week that the Village Board has decided to end the popular race. "It is with very mixed emotion that I share this news with you but next Labor Day we will stage the 30th and final Scenic 10. After great thought and much anguish the Village of Park Forest has decided to end the race after several years of insufficient sponsorship and a change of direction of the focus within the village."
James has served as race director for two decades, "Over the tenure of the race I am proud of our accomplishments as an event as we set the standard for many races in Illinois and throughout the US. The competitive level of the race has been among the top 10 mile races in the world . Park Forest was among the first races to offer a professional prize purse for athletes when we introduced that aspect in 1986. During that time we have been able to promote running and its development giving over $350,000.00 in prize money. We have also hosted 3 US National Championships and have been named the top race in the Chicago Area on almost an annual basis. I personally have been the race director for the past 20 years and have come in contact with countless people in the running industry and running community who I will always cherish as my friends."
This past year's race featured Gilbert Tuhabonye, originally from the African country of Burundi. Tuhabonye, an Olympian, is a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Burundi. His autobiography, This Voice In My Heart, was the focus of a stirring presentation at the runners' clinic in Park Forest the day before the race. He now resides in Texas.
Bud James expressed both his gratitude and his sadness at seeing the race end, "I would like to thank everyone who has helped us out in any way during that time. It will be very difficult for me to see this race end as ever since 1984 I have been a part of it and have had it as one of the major focuses of my life. It is truly a part of my life and a part of Cindy's life that we will always hold dear to us. We want the final race to be just as good as all the rest that have preceded it and plan to make the final race one of the best we have ever had. The people at the Village of Park Forest, Martha Davidson, John Joyce and the staff there have been like family to us and have vested a huge part of their lives in the race. I really appreciate all that they have done for the sport of running by being such great supporters of the sport for so many years. Please save Labor Day 2007 so you can be part of the final race and thanks again for your friendship and support."