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Cemetery Hosts Running Races as a Marketing Tool

The cemetery in Peoria, Ill., hopes to attract more customers through on-site events.

The cemetery in Peoria, Ill., hopes to attract more customers through on-site events.

The Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Ill., is a scenic 225-acre cemetery with 6.55 miles of hilly roads winding through it.

As a way to get more customers—that is, more sold lots—the cemetery has approached its marketing strategy a little differently.

One of the ideas? Running races on site.

“We know if we get people back into the cemetery, they’re going to be amazed at its beauty,” Springdale Cemetery Management Authority Bob Manning told the Peoria Journal Star. “Then, hopefully, they’ll think of us when the time comes.”

Springdale is not the only cemetery to host a running race, but it is rare in that it hopes to have a full calendar of races throughout the year. Recently, the cemetery hosted about 200 runners for the Ron Santo Walk and 5K to Cure Diabetes.

It’s now gearing up for the Screaming Pumpkin Race, a night run on Oct. 25 that is almost completely on cemetery grounds. About 5,000 glow sticks will light up the race course, and runners can do the 6.55-mile loop once, or four times for a full marathon. Instead of the fastest time winning the marathon, the race is awarding victory to the runner who finishes closest to midnight (the race starts at 6 p.m., though runners can start after that if they wish). The catch? No watches or GPS allowed on the course.

Springdale Cemetery hopes to host more running races in the future, and has a few advantages to its favor. For one, it can host a 5K or 10K completely on its grounds, eliminating the need for event directors to close busy streets.

More than 700 runners are expected at the Screaming Pumpkin Race.

MORE: Peoria Journal Star