ALBANY -- Through rain or thunder or dark of potential tornadoes, the 6th annual Albany Marathon must go on -- and so it did on Saturday, to the rhythm of 1,475 sets of wet and happy feet.
"We were all up and out there at 5:30 a.m., with the police department and keeping tabs on the weather," said Rachelle Beasley, director of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We gave it the go-ahead at 7 o'clock, and as soon as the cannon fired it started raining."
Beasley said her team received constant weather updates Saturday from a local meteorologist to advise on heavy rain or lightning. At one point tornado sirens perked some interest, but even that wasn't enough to stop the run.
"We had 12 separate search-and-rescue teams ready to make sure everyone was all right," Beasley said. "And the (weather) cell across the river moved east and away from us."
Beasely said Albany City Manager James Taylor even had city transit buses standing by with drivers just in case they were needed to pick up runners.
According to Beasley nothing was spared in safety assurance or in catering to the needs of runners.
"These people came to run, and they had a lot riding on what we did for them here," she said. "Most had jobs waiting on Monday. To cancel would have been disastrous, and to postpone almost as bad. We just kicked off our shoes, rolled up our pants legs and kept on going."
According to Beasley, attendance at this year's marathon was even greater than for the race last year, despite the inclement weather. Beasley said there were 1,723 individuals registered to run, with 1,475 actually starting the race. A number of prospective athletes came intending to participate but may not have recovered sufficiently from previous training injuries to commit. While last year's registration figure was 1,691, Beasley said she knows this year's figure would have hit 2,000 without the forecast for rain.
"The decision to have the race on Saturday was nip and tuck," Beasley said. "But it was the right thing to do. If the event had been on Sunday, there would have been issues with the heat and humidity. I think a lot of runners prefer the rain."
According to Beasley, there were no major injuries or health situations beyond the expected blisters and one or two twisted ankles.
Beasley was pleased with the city's first marathon since she became bureau director, especially having managed the event under what she called "the most unfavorable conditions."
Despite sounding suspiciously as if she were coming down with a cold, Beasley said she would be meeting with her team within the next few days to analyze the event for its positives and negatives.
"Nothing is ever perfect the first time you do it," she said. "We'll all get together for a debriefing on what we did -- what went right or wrong -- and make a better plan for next year."