Here is the course layout for Saturday’s Albany Marathon and Half Marathon. More than 1,500 runners are expected to participate in the event. (Graphic by the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau)
ALBANY — Named one of Active.com’s 14 Marathons to Do in 2014, the 8th annual Albany Marathon and Half Marathon Powered by Snickers, will welcome more than 1,500 participants to the area on Saturday. The race is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
The finish line will be in located in its customary position behind the Albany Welcome Center. Last year’s finish line was moved to the Thronateeska Heritage Center because of uncertainy posed by the rising Flint River.
“Weekends in February and March are typically a bit slow for the local hospitality industry. Combining the Albany Marathon and Half-Marathon with the Downtown Merchants’ Mardi Gras celebration made for a perfect partnership,” said Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Rashelle Beasley. “We’ve had some rough weather for the past two events, but we are encouraged by weather reports forecasting good conditions for Saturday.”
Pre-Race Festivities, Friday
— 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Runners Expo & Registration Packet Pick-Up (No Race Day Registration) Hilton Garden Inn.
— 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. AT&T Pasta Dinner ($15 per ticket) at the Hilton Garden Inn
— Pacer Debbie will be will be speaking at 5:45 p.m.
— Local athlete Josh Fix will introduce CPT Kris Morrill at 6:30 p.m.
— StephanieChasingB... personality Stephanie McDuffie Freeman will speak at 7 p.m.
Race Start/Times, Saturday
— Crank and Wheel Chairs start at 6:45 a.m.
— The marathon and half-marathon begin at 7 a.m.
The Marathon Route
The marathon route, described as fast and flat by past participants, includes a scenic tour of Albany:
— Start is on Front Street next to Veterans Park
— Pass Albany’s historic Sand Dunes, thought to be the northern reaches of the Gulf of Mexico thousands of years ago
— Pass through two college campuses, Albany State University and Darton State College
— Run around Lake Loretta
— Circle through Rawson Circle, a designated garden neighborhood
— Run past Hilsman Park
— Pass Through Thronateeska Heritage Museum and the old train depot
— Finish is along the river trail at RiverFront Park behind the Albany Welcome Center
On Tuesday, the National Weather Service was predicting a 7 a.m. temperature of 43 degrees for Saturday with a 20 percent chance of rain that would tail off as the morning progressed. By noon, temperatures should reach 58 on their way to a high of 64, forecasters said.
As of Tuesday, 693 runners had signed up to run the marathon and 610 for the half-marathon, an increase of 100 participants from the Tuesday before the 2013 races. The combined 1305 registrations originate from 39 other states, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Austria and Canada. Last year, the event attracted 1409 registered runners.
This year marks the first Albany race that will offer runner tracking. Participants will be able to sign up loved ones and friends through a website to receive text messages as he/she crosses miles 10, 13 and 20.
One who will no doubt be tracked by friends is elite runner Yolimar Pineda of Venezuela, who is joining nine other elite runners who will try to break the course record and win shares of the $12,000 in prize money split between male and female runners who finish in the top three in their respective field. Pineda competed in the marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, placing 94th with a time of 2:45:16.
The 26.2-mile Albany course records for men and women were set in 2011 by Tesfaye Alemayehu, who trains in Antioch, Calif., with a 2:17:09, and in 2008 by Janet Cherobon, of Lawrenceville, with a time of 2:37:26.
Beasley added that in an effort to increase community support, residents are encouraged to show pride and spirit by setting up chairs in their front yards.
“This is a fantastic time to bring out noisemakers and cheer on the runners. The support helps them throughout the route. Tweet pictures to @albanymarathon and Facebook while rooting on the runners,” Beasley said.
For those who want to get involved with the event, there are volunteer spaces still available. Interested individuals and groups can contact volunteer coordinator Meredith Burnsed at (229) 317-4760. All volunteers receive a free volunteer t-shirt and free entry to the Mardi Gras festival.
All marathon proceeds benefit the Willson Hospice House. Those proceeds have generated $155,000 to date.
The Marathon Energy and Protein Bars Powered by Snickers has been in production since 2003 and is produced by Mars in Albany. Mars again is the title sponsor.