Runners participate in a past Albany Marathon.
ALBANY — Rain or shine, the Albany Marathon and Half Marathon Powered by Snickers was to begin at 7 a.m. today with runners from around the country.
Thunderstorms or tornadoes, if they develop, would be different story.
“If the runners aren’t there, that means the race has been postponed because of something stronger,” Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Rachelle Beasley said. “Runners are used to rain, but we’re looking at the possibly of lightning and even tornadoes.”
The event, a major part of the annual Mardi Gras weekend, is typically a big money maker for the area. This year, it’s hard to figure the impact, since the street festival has been postponed until Saturday.
“It’s difficult to peg the benefit of the race itself,” Beasley said. “It could take a little time to break it down.”
Regardless of when the race is run, Dr. Kiyoshi Yamazaki, medical director for the event, said he and his team were prepared to deal with anything “injury or health-related” on the 26.2 mile course. Yamazaki said that medical tents staffed by physicians, nurses and non-medical volunteers would be at the halfway point and at the end of the 26.2-mile course.
“I was an Eagle Scout,” Yamazaki said. “So I believe in preparation. We can handle pretty much anything that happens, from cuts, bruises, blisters, heat stroke or even problems from the rain we might have. If there’s something serious between stations, we have vehicles to pick up runners.”
James and Nozomi Wade of Suwanee came to run.
“I race twice a month,” Nozomi Wade said, “and I run about 40 miles a week. I wake up at 4 a.m. and run before I go in to teach first grade.”
Nozomi Wade said she came to the Albany Marathon because it’s flat “and I don’t do hills that well,” and because the Albany race, certified by USA Track & Field, will get her to the Boston Marathon later on.
“She started running because of me,” said James Wade. “I ran into a woman about 65 or so who was training for a triathlon. I figured if she could do it I could, too.”
Nozomi Wade saw her husband was looking and feeling better and decided to give it a try, she said.
“I was working out in a gym at the time,” she said, “but that was boring. Besides, I’m a little competitive by nature. I kept running longer and longer distances until I could run a marathon.”
Nozomi Wade said she “will definitely place” in the full marathon competition. James Wade is competing in the 13.1-mile half-marathon race.
Stacie Brown of Leesburg is fulfilling a dream of sorts.
“Secretly, I always wanted to run a marathon, even though I wasn’t a runner,” she said. “When I turned 30 in January, I figured there was no better way to celebrate the milestone.”
Brown is a member of the Albany Run/Walk group, she said, which helps new runners come up to speed through a personalized method of alternating “runs and walks.”
“There are about 200 people in the big group,” Brown said. “My group has about 10. Depending on abilities, we start out just walking for a minute then running for a minute, then back to walking. Little by little, we come up to running longer times.”
Brown, who’s been training since August, said she runs for the feeling she’s “doing something for herself,” that she’s “stuck with it.” and for the friends she’s made in training.
Kent Elliot, a running newbie, came down from Macon for the 13.1-mile race. Elliot trained by the “Hal Higdon Method,” he said, which stresses short but increasing longer runs. Once he was comfortable going 10 miles, he set himself on a marathon. Elliot, 47, said he got started as part of a “biggest loser” event at his church.
“I’m probably the fattest guy in the race,” Elliot said, “but I’ve lost 47 pounds. My friend Sam nagged me about doing a marathon and finally I signed up.”
Tom Coleman, 69, is a marathon veteran with 117 races under his belt. He and his wife, Jayne, flew down from New Jersey so he could run in this race the first time. Jayne, also a runner, is nursing an injured knee.
“I’ve run marathons in 20 states,” he said, “but this is this will be the first in Georgia. I’m really looking forward to it.”