ALBANY We often hear the cliche "Chamber of Commerce weather" used to describe days represented by beautiful pictures that grace the covers of magazines and brochures beckoning tourists and businesses alike.
Saturday, however, was not one of those days.
Severe weather that moved into the area overnight forced postponement of Albany's Mardi Gras celebration to next weekend, but the Albany Marathon and Half Marathon powered by Snickers and the SB&T Bike Race slogged bravely on.
"When they fired the starting gun (at 7 a.m) they must have poked a hole in the sky, because it started pouring" said soaked marathon participant Jeff Williams of Marietta. "The rain let up after awhile, then started back again around mile three. Then the tornado sirens went off around mile seven.
"It was a heck of a day."
The races participants and their supporters, however, seemed to take it all in stride.
"I'd heard that this is a great smaller town to run in, that the course was nice and flat and that the people here are some of the friendliest you'll ever meet. But nobody said anything about the weather," said half marathon runner Karen Austin ofSt. Louis, Mo. "As it turned out, it was a great course, the people were wonderful and everything was great ... except the weather."
Bikers Drew Miller and Kurt Hoehm of Jacksonville, Fla. weren't particularly concerned about the weather.
"We'll just let a few pounds of air out of the tires, so I'm not worried that much about the weather unless it's lightening or tornadoes," Miller said, adding with a laugh, "but a tornado might be a good tailwind ..."
Hoehm, who has raced in Idaho, Louisiana and California and is racing in the fourth of the past five weekends, said he just wanted to race.
"I enjoy this a lot," he said. "It's fun and a good workout. Some of these other guys actually make money at it. Drew and I just donate to the purse."
For some of the day's participants, weather was never a factor.
"I'm going on vacation later this week, and I wanted to run a marathon before I started vacation. I looked at other places like Napa Valley, but it's more fun to me to run in smaller towns," said Matt Flaherty, of Chicago who finished sixth in the Marathon. "This is just a beautiful course, especially the last few miles.
"I've had a ball here."
Others, like Half Marathon runner Michael Medlen, of Wicksburg, Ala., had competed here before, and will be back next year.
"I'd run here before, and it's such a good course I wanted to come back," Medlen said."I didn't do as well this time, but I'm about 15 pounds heavier than I was two years ago, and the weather didn't exactly help. But the people here are wonderful; the support is unbelievable. This is just a good place."