Get ready to run, have fun

The fourth annual Mill Race Marathon will be a running event for the ages.

More than 1,000 kids through grade 6 are expected to sprint from the Kids Fun Run starting line at 6 p.m. today at Mill Race Park. Based on registration trends, at least a fifth of them will be age 4 or younger, with the smallest of them running the equivalent of two football fields.

On the other end of the age spectrum, one runner who’s at least 85 will compete in Saturday’s half marathon, going 13.1 miles.

Runner registrations have been up year-over-year all summer, and opportunities to join the run fun continue today and Saturday. Starting this morning, all registration will be in-person.

Fun Run packet pickup and registration go from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. today at Mill Race Park, Fifth and Lindsey streets, ahead of the 6 p.m. start in five age/grade categories: Tots younger than pre-K, running 0.12 miles; pre-K and kindergarten, 0.31 miles; grades 1 and 2, 0.62 miles; grades 3 and 4, 0.93 miles; and grades 5 and 6, 1.24 miles.

Parents can also register their children for the Fun Run today at The Commons, 300 Washington St., starting at 10 a.m.

As of Thursday afternoon, the total number of runners registered for today/Saturday events was at 4,641, on a pace to exceed last year’s count.

With a promising weather forecast, that number will grow with last-minute registrants, organizer Laura Chasse said.

The early morning forecast for Saturday’s 5K, half marathon and full marathon calls for temperatures in the mid-60s, a little warmer than last year’s 59 degrees when runners were about to leave the starting line.

The AccuWeather forecast indicates Saturday temperatures are expected to rise to 73 by 10 a.m. and 82 by noon under mostly sunny conditions. It will be 85 degrees by 4 p.m. Saturday, according to AccuWeather, compared to 73 degrees at that same time on race day a year ago under mostly cloudy conditions.

Runners who still haven’t signed up to participate on Saturday can do so during today’s free Health and Fitness Expo, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at The Commons, where at least 30 vendors will greet the public at their booths, providing a wide variety of health and wellness information. Visitors can also get their photos taken against a backdrop depicting the Robert N. Stewart Bridge.

A new feature at this year’s expo is Surgery Sam, a large-scale adaptation of the original “Operation” game, presented by Columbus Regional Health. This electronic, interactive game spans 6 feet in length, has a timer, red-glowing nose and giant tweezers to remove Sam’s various parts. Expo visitors can try their hand at removing different pieces for prizes.

Marathon runup

Health and Fitness Expo: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, The Commons, 300 Washington St.

Kids Fun Run: 6 p.m. today, Mill Race Park, Fifth and Lindsey streets.

Mill Race Marathon and Half Marathon: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, start and finish on Washington Street between Sixth and Seventh streets.

5K Run/Walk: 8 a.m. Saturday, start and finish on Washington Street between Sixth and Seventh streets.

Finish on Fourth After Party: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Fourth and Washington Streets near The Commons.

Join the fun? Register in person today for all running events at the Health and Fitness Expo from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., or for the Kids Fun Run from  4:30 to 5:45 p.m. today at Mill Race Park, Fifth and Lindsey streets.  Registration fees are $35 (5K), $80 (half marathon) and $95 (full marathon). The Kids Fun Run is free.

Follow the coverage

Follow marathon progress Saturday at therepublic.com and find coverage in Sunday’s print edition of The Republic.