When Richard Webster runs in Sunday's 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon costumed as Batman's sidekick Robin, every step will be music to the ears of Evanston's Bach Week Festival.
Webster, the festival's revered, long-time music director and a marathon veteran, runs for the challenge and satisfaction -- and also to raise money for the festival, which he's performed in since it began in 1974.
Donations from those sponsoring Webster's Chicago run are among the nonprofit festival's fundraising efforts.
Another is Sunday evening's "Bachtoberfest" party and concert at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. Webster will serve as emcee for the festivities and organist in a "mini-concert" of Bach's music, after having run the marathon earlier that day.
His first marathon was the 1995 Chicago event. "Once I crossed that finish line, it was like walking through the gates of heaven. I was completely hooked," Webster recalls.
Since then, has completed 20 marathons, including seven Boston Marathons and marathons in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
For the past decade, he's made it a practice to run as a costumed character. Besides Robin, his repertoire includes J. S. Bach, Paul Revere, the Easter Bunny (his first character), Abraham Lincoln, and the Cat in the Hat.
"It's fun for the fans. They love it, and it inspires me to run faster," Webster says.
Bach Week's "Caped Crusader" could also be called the "Caped Composer." Webster has written works for choir, organ, and organ and brass. They're available through a variety of publishers, including his own Advent Press imprint.
Anyone wishing to sponsor Webster's 2011 Chicago Marathon run can do so through the Bach Week Festival's website, which has complete details about Bachtoberfest: http://www.bachweek.org. For information, call (847) 293-6686