Off and running: inaugural Grove Express 5K kicks off Thanksgiving morning

Runners are ready to take their marks as the inaugural Grove Express 5K launches on Thanksgiving morning in downtown Downers Grove.

After news in July that the Bonfield Express 5K would cease, representatives from three local organizations came together to keep the race tradition alive and support the community. The Grove Express is now a team effort with support from the Education Foundation of Dowers Grove District 58, Downers Grove Rotary Club and the Roadrunners Soccer Club.

Jonathan Twitty, one of the race co-organizers and president of the Downers Grove Rotary Club, said that with about a week left until the race there were more than 3,000 registered runners, a number that trends with previous years’ registration for the Bonfield Express 5K.

“We’re very pleased with the response, and there has been nothing but positivity from the community,” Twitty said.

Registration is available online at and on race day until 8:15 a.m.

With help from the Bonfield Foundation and its team of race organizers, the Grove Express team has been able to make a smooth transition, acquiring sponsors and already maxing out the number of volunteers to help with the race.

The 5K will wind through the same route as the Bonfield Express, starting and finishing in downtown Downers Grove.

The Bonfield Express started in 2004 to honor the memory of Jim Bonfield a former dean, coach, teacher and father who taught at Downers Grove South High School for 32 years. Bonfield died in 2003 from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease.

Through the years, the race became a popular tradition for participants, as well as those who lived along the race route. Twitty said he is excited to see the registration numbers and said a number of participants are from out of state. The race has become a holiday tradition for families and friends, as much so as the holiday meal.

With the weather outlook being sunny and in the 30s, Twitty and race organizers are looking forward to a great first race.

Just as the Bonfield Express used the race to fundraise, the Grove Express will use its proceeds to support the community with educational scholarships and dollars for youth programming, Twitty said.