Routes and locations for Albany’s 9th annual Mardi Gras weekend are changing slightly this year, as seen in this photo illustration. The center of activity will be focused downtown on Front Street, with festivities beginning on Saturday morning.
MARDI GRAS SCHEDULE
ALBANY MARATHON AND HALF-MARATHON POWERED BY SNICKERS
Pre-Race Festivities, Friday
3 p.m.-9 p.m., Runners Expo & Registration Packet Pick-Up (No Race Day Registration), Hilton Garden Inn
5 p.m.-8 p.m., AT&T Pasta Dinner ($15 per ticket) at the Hilton Garden Inn. Band, JT YoYo’s at 5 p.m. 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m., Local Athlete, Jason Wilcox will be speaking 6:35 p.m., Pace Team Leader Jim Crist will be speaking
Race start times
6:45 a.m., Crank and wheel chairs
7 a.m., Marathon and half-marathon begin
Horace King Overlook behind the Bridge House
11 a.m., Half-marathon
SB&T BIKE RACE WEEKEND
6:30 a.m., Time trial onsite registration begins and number pick up
10 a.m., Criterium on site registration begins and number pick up
7:30 a.m., Road Race onsite registration begins and number pick-up
FLINT RIVERQUARIUM TURTLE RACE
Noon-12:15p.m., Opening ceremonies
12:30 p.m.-12:45 p.m., RiverQuarium animal show
12:55 p.m.-1:20p.m., Puppeteer
1:30 p.m.-1:45p.m., Chehaw animal show
2:00 p.m.-2:20p.m., Josette Dance Company
2:25 p.m.-2:55p.m., Puppeteer
3:05 p.m.-3:50p.m., Gabriel’s Rock Crew
4:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Turtle race
4:45 p.m.-5:15p.m., Turtle race
MARDI GRAS STREET FESTIVAL
Saturday, Front Street
12:00 p.m. -12:15 p.m., Opening ceremonies
12:15 p.m.-1 p.m., Evergreen Family Band
1:20 p.m.-2:10 p.m., Broken Glass
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., Rollin In The Hay
3:50 p.m.-4:50 p.m., Southern Arts Music Ensemble
5:10 p.m.-6:10 p.m., J. Blues Band
6:30 p.m.-7:50 p.m., Joanna Smith
8:10 p.m.-9:00 p.m., Jodi Mann
9:15 p.m.-10:45 p.m., Bo Henry Band
11:15 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Dusty Boots
SOUNDS OF PRAISE IN THE PARK
Sunday, Veterans Park Ampitheater
2 p.m.-6 p.m., Praise, worship, music and family fun
ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany's 9th annual Mardi Gras weekend will officially launch at 7 a.m. Saturday when the gun sounds to start the 6th annual Albany Marathon and Half Marathon Powered by Snickers.
The races mark the opening of a weekend full of activity that includes the SB&T Bicycle Race Weekend, the Flint RiverQuarium Turtle Race, the Downtown Merchants' Mardi Gras Celebration and Sunday's Sounds of Praise at Veterans Park.
Area residents will notice several temporary road closings on Saturday as more than 2,000 runners are expected to participate in the marathons.
Tesfaye Alemayehu, who trains in Antioch, Calif., shattered the 26.2-mile course record last year with a time of 2:17:26. Janet Cherobon of Lawrenceville set the women's record in 2008 with a time of 2:37:26.
As of Tuesday, 790 people have signed up to run in the marathon and 838 in the half-marathon. The 1,628 registrations have originated from 37 states outside of Georgia and Canada. Last year, 1,691 runners participated in the races.
"Right now we are above where we were last year and are on track to finish with more than 2,000 runners," Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Rachelle Beasley said. "We're hoping it will be another big year."
The Albany Marathon is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, which assures the race will attract a large,competitive field. All marathon proceeds benefit the Willson Hospice House, which picked up a $20,000 check from the event last year.
Volunteers are still needed for the event and those wishing to participate my call Meredith Burnsed at (229) 317-4760. All volunteers will receive a free volunteer t-shirt and free entry into the Mardi Gras Festival.
While rain is a possibility over the weekend, Beasley said rain will be a non-factor.
"This thing is too big," Beasley said. "Our only concern is lightning. It can be pouring down rain and we'll still go on."
7TH ANNUAL BIKE RACE
Three events -- a time trial, criterium and road race -- make up the 7th annual SB&T Bike Race weekend, with more than $8,000 in prize money up for grabs.
This year the Mardi Gras Festival has expanded, so riders race on a new four-corner criterium course. The time trial also is making a comeback -- the entire weekend will be an omnium (a multiple racing event) based on time. The criterium and road race will be points-earning events for the new Georgia Championship Series.
On-site registration and number pick up for the Time Trial begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, and Criterium registration and number pick up begins at 10 a.m. and closes 30 minutes before the start of each category's race. Sunday on-site registration and number pick up for the 54.7K Road Race, which winds through Lee County, begins at 7:30 a.m. and closes 30 minutes before the start of each category's race.
3RD ANNUAL TURTLE RACE
Ten thousand rubber turtles will race for prizes at 4 p.m. Saturday at Flint RiverQuarium, located at 101 Pine Ave.
Turtles may be adopted for $5 in support of the Flint RiverQuarium. The family-friendly day begins at noon and will include children's activities, live entertainment, food vendors, $5 admission to the RiverQuarium and the Turtle Race.
The aquarium will also feature animal shows, puppets and a dance show beginning at noon.
MARDI GRAS STREET FESTIVAL
The Mardi Gras Street Festival, which is also in a new location, kicks off at noon with the opening ceremony and grooves on until midnight.
The event will feature nine different bands, vendors, attractions and crafters throughout the day. Previously, the festival has been conducted on the 200 block of Broad Avenue. This year, however, it is being held riverside on Front Street.
Free Admission tickets will be given to each participant and volunteer of the Rock, Roll and Run weekend.
SOUNDS OF PRAISE SUNDAY
Strive 2 Thrive will host the 3rd annual Sounds of Praise in the Park 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at the Veterans Park Amphitheater across from the Civic Center.
Officials with Strive 2 Thrive, a program designed to combat poverty, say they want to emphasize the diversity of the Albany area and unite the community with a day full of family fun. Families will join for praise, worship, performances, games, raffles, food and lots of activities.