0

Runners, spectators enjoy race

Amie Lockhart and Chuck Knight cross the finish line together during the Albany Marathon and Half Marathon Saturday.

Amie Lockhart and Chuck Knight cross the finish line together during the Albany Marathon and Half Marathon Saturday.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Running side-by-side, Justin Null and Laura Fletcher neared the finish line of Saturday's Albany Marathon and Half Marathon, and did something unusual.

Ten feet from the blue finish line, they clasped hands and kissed as they crossed it. The couple, running in their first half-marathon, were unconcerned with their times, instead they created a moment which will remain with them forever.

photo

Joe Bellacomo

Runners begin the 7th Annual Albany Marathon and Half Marathon on Front St. Saturday morning.

"It was my idea, I made him do it," a smiling Fletcher, who lives in Albany said. "It was the first time we had run a race together and we had a great time all the way along the course."

Null, of Smyrna, wasn't complaining.

"Everyone down here has been so friendly, and I wasn't expecting this," he said. "People lined the course and were shouting encouragement. It's really been fun."

photo

Joe Bellacomo

Runners cross the finish line together during the Albany Marathon and Half Marathon Saturday on Roosevelt Avenue.

Three friends, two from Statesboro and the third from Garfield City, who ran the half-marathon, agreed with Null's assessment of the day,

"I loved the course," Joanne Foff said. "We ran past some beautiful homes, and I was really impressed by the Garden District. We'll definitely come back next year. There are good places to eat, the hotel was nice and it was a nice-sized field ... not too big, but just right."

Foff's friend, April Schueths was also impressed.

"I really liked the flat course, Schueths said. "The layout was beautiful and I enjoyed this race better than the Rock 'N' Roll run in Savannah."

"I thought it was a great course in a lovely city," Niamh Matthews said. It was a little cold, but the people who lined the course were very encouraging."

photo

Joe Bellacomo

Runners begin the 7th Annual Albany Marathon and Half Marathon on Front St. Saturday morning.

Holly Pastor of Suwanee watched the race with her two young daughters. Pastor carried a sign of encouragement for her runner husband, Henry, that read: "RUN LIKE YOU HAVE ZOMBIES AFTER YOU!!!!"

"We've had a great time," Pastor said. "We have a couple of people we are cheering for, including Daddy (Henry). We love it here, we drove the course earlier and it is beautiful. This town is so sweet. We will absolutely be back next year."

University of Georgia student Maggie Heirs of Moultrie, who ran the half-marathon, was also enjoying herself.

"This was my first half-marathon and I really enjoyed the flatness of the course," she said. "I'm used to running in Athens, which is hilly and the flat course helped me feel like I was running faster. I was surprised by the people cheering us on from the sides. It was a good course, a good race, and I'll be back."

James Martin of Marietta, whose daughter, Julia, was running in her third Albany marathon, said the race continues to get better each year.

"This event is different because it is a medium-size event, but it is very well-run," Martin said. "The course is flat, laid out well and runs through some very pretty neighborhoods. A runner can turn in a good time down here. Everybody is so friendly, it is very impressive little run."