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Safety concerns lead to Wounded Warrior race cap

Hundreds of participants line up at the start line of the third annual Wounded Warrior 5K run held May 24. The run was a success, but officials said it crowded streets and caused safety hazards that organizers aim to solve next year.
Hundreds of participants line up at the start line of the third annual Wounded Warrior 5K run held May 24. The run was a success, but officials said it crowded streets and caused safety hazards that organizers aim to solve next year.

PLAINFIELD – The annual Wounded Warrior 5K race has become such a popular fundraiser in Plainfield that officials are capping registration for next year’s race because of safety concerns.

Race registration has nearly doubled every year since the event was founded in 2012. The last race, on May 24, attracted a little more than 1,400 participants, according to co-organizer Donna Morsovillo.

The Village Board voted Aug. 11 to cap the number of participants at 1,200 for the next race, scheduled for May 23.

“We didn’t think it would grow as rapidly as it did,” Morsovillo said. “Safety is our main concern.”

Police Chief John Konopek told the Village Board that while the race ran well, there were several safety concerns.

Konopek said parking was an issue because, for every participant running, there were two to three people who came to watch. He said there were thousands of people at the race.

“It was not only a parking problem. It was also just the number of runners themselves,” Konopek said.

Runners in the main pack had to maneuver around cars to get through the course. And the biggest concern was fitting all the runners at the starting line in Settler’s Park.

Race organizers agreed with the participation cap and have said they will use more signage for the event, as well as more riverfront property for parking. They also will ask a sponsor to provide a shuttle bus to alleviate parking pressure.

Trustee Jim Racich said the race had some glitches, but it looked great.

“It really showcases the village of Plainfield and it showcases the cooperation between our group, our entire village and the Wounded Warrior organization,” he said.

Morsovillo is the founder of Operation Welcome You Home, the organization that holds the Wounded Warrior 5K run.

“The first year, we donated to the Wounded Warrior Project,” she said. “But after that, we decided to focus our support on local veterans.”

The more than $45,000 raised from the event will provide veterans wounded in service with special needs equipment, regular items veterans need and even funeral expenses for families. None of the money goes to organizations.

Wounded veterans that attended also received monetary tokens of appreciation.

Morsovillo said the participation cap doesn’t mean people can’t still donate to the cause. Not all registrants attend the event and people from other states – including Maryland, New York and Wisconsin – register.

“We’re hoping to exceed what we did this year,” she said. She anticipates registration for next year’s race to open Sept. 28.

“We’re very proud of how our organization has grown supporting our local heroes,” she said.

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