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Thumbs up: Marshall Marathon continues to grow

Nov. 06, 2013 @ 12:45 AM

In November of 2004, a field of 336 athletes took to the streets in the first running of what would become the Marshall University Marathon.

Organizer Dr. Tom Dannals felt Huntington’s fairly flat route would prove popular with runners, and he also hoped the event would encourage healthier lifestyles for the people of our region. He was right on both counts.

This Sunday, about 2,000 participants are expected for the 10th running of the event. The 26-mile marathon attracts many runners from throughout the region, but it is also gaining a larger footprint. Participants are expected from 32 states and five countries, including the “land of runners,” Ethiopia. That adds to the economic impact of the race with about 300 hotel rooms reserved.

In addition to the nice course, visitors also enjoy the scenic route.

“It really has beautiful spots that rival any other city — Ritter Park and Harris Riverfront Park,”  race director Jim Duke told The Herald-Dispatch. “You’re not going to see a nicer scene than the river and the bridge.”

If you are looking for even more distance, organizers this year are adding an ultra marathon of 39.3 miles or three laps around the marathon course.

For the more casual runner, the event also offers multiple ways to participate. Along with the full marathon, there is a half marathon, a half-marathon relay, and a 5K that is open to walkers. That allows almost everyone to join in.

The Marshall University Marathon has not only grown into a premier regional event, but it also has inspired a broader interest in running and exercise that is the best remedy for our long-term problems with obesity and poor health.

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