ALBANY, Ga. -- As the seventh annual Snickers Marathon Energy Bar Marathon nears its Saturday morning start, race officials gathered outside the Thronateeska Heritage Center for an important decision: where to place the race's finish line.
Albany Marathon/Mardi Gras
Street Festival Schedule
Saturday, March 2
7 a.m. Start, Albany Marathon and Half-Marathon
Family Entertainment schedule (Riverfront Park)
11-11:45 a.m. Good Life Drum Circle
12-12:20 p.m. Puppeteer
12:30-12:45 p.m. FRQ Animal Show
12:55-1:20 p.m. Puppeteer
1:30-1:45 p.m. Chehaw Animal Show
2-2:20 p.m. Josette Dance Company
2:25-2:55 p.m. Puppeteer
3-3:45 p.m. Good Life Drum Circle
4-4:30 p.m. Turtle race
4:45-5:15 p.m. Turtle race
7 p.m. Battle for the Gold Wresting (State Theatre)
11 a.m.- noon Evan Barber and The Dead Gamblers
12:20 - 2:40 p.m. G and S Band
1:40 - 2:40 p.m. Relapse
3 - 4 p.m. Southern Arts Music Ensemble
4:20 - 5:20 p.m. Rollin’ in the Hay
5:40 - 6:40 p.m. Dusty Boots
7 - 8 p.m. J Blues Band
8:30 - 10 p.m. Bo Henry Band with Jodi Mann
10:15 - 11:30 p.m. Meow Kapow
The finish line for the race has always been at Riverfront Park, which sits by the banks of the Flint River. But heavy rains have raised the level of the river and flooding is a real possibility this weekend, prompting officials to reroute the race finish to the nearby Thronateeska Heritage Center.
The alternative route has been certified and will still be a Boston Marathon qualifier event. The rerouting took some coordination between race officials and the city and sparked memories of last year's race, which was held in the midst of thunderstorms and under the blare of tornado sirens.
"We just had to get on the same page with traffic engineering and the city, but really the rerouting was a very easy transition," Race Director Rashelle Beasley, the manager of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "We are also looking forward to better weather. But like Chuck (Knight) said, we'd rather set up a new finish line than deal with tornado warnings.
"We appreciate the Thronateeska Heritage Center staff for being flexible with the changes of this year's race. We've worked out all of the logistics. We are ready for race day."
Beasley said pre-race registration is running about the same as last year.
"We had 1,365 finish last year, and we have 1,286 runners so far," she said. "We're getting around 50 applications per day. We'll have about the same number of runners this year."
Race-day weather forecasts call for partly cloudy skies with a high in the mid-50s.
The potential for flooding has also affected the Mardi Gras Street Festival, which has been moved to the 100 blocks of Front Street and Pine Avenue. The festival also has a new start time, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and running until midnight with the main musical stage on Pine Avenue.
The festival will feature vendors, a kid's zone, nine bands, a turtle race to benefit the Flint RiverQuarium, a drum circle and "the Battle for the Gold" wrestling event at the State Theatre.
The annual turtle race begins at the RiverQuarium at 4 p.m. when 7,500 rubber turtles hit the fountain steps in a race to the finish line.
Turtles may be adopted for $4 each, and the first to reach the finish line will earn its owner $5,000. Funds will benefit the RiverQuarium.
Two drum circles will be held at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Riverfront Park. Attendees are invited to bring a chair and a drum or percussion instrument and relieve some stress.
The Battle for the Gold wrestling event gets under way with a 7:30 p.m. bell time. The card features Dab Savage, Johnny Romano, Big Daddy Osborne, Bam Stone, Jayson Falcone, Chris Nelms, Big Bank Barfield, Logan Creed and Dirty Dave Tate.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids.
Festival entry gates open at 10 a.m. and are located at the intersections of West Broad Avenue and Front Street, North Washington Street at Pine, and the alley across from the chamber's Visitors Welcome Center.
Admission fee is $5 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $2 for ages 3 to 12. No unattended children will be admitted.