There are 62 days left of training before the Mill Race Marathon, and runners are relying heavily on the People Trails for safety.

From beginners like 50-year-old Bill Mahoney, who just picked up running two months ago, to running veterans like his daughter Meryn Rathert who will be competing in her fifth Mill Race Half-Marathon this year, many Columbus residents feel the People Trails create the safest running environment. Mahoney said being able to stay away from traffic via the People Trails is great, and running on the asphalt instead of concrete is an extra plus.

“I don’t know if I could enjoy (running) as much as I do without the People Trails,” Mahoney said. “The other nice part is, the People Trails are usually away from cars. When you’re running, and a diesel truck or an old car comes by, you can smell the fumes and it makes it hard to breathe. Being on the People Trails, you’re far enough away from most of the actual traffic that you don’t get the exhaust fumes.”

Shannon Edwards, who runs on Saturdays with the Columbus Running Club, said the city’s drivers are usually pretty good at yielding to runners on the road in a group setting. However, Rathert has ran into a few issues on her morning runs when on the streets alone. The mornings will start getting darker the closer it gets to September, which is why Rathert prefers the roads for her early runs.

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Rathert feels better running through neighborhoods where she is surrounded by houses in case something were to happen. In doing so, she is unable to prevent other challenges that the People Trails help to eliminate — morning traffic. Rathert remembers a couple of close calls she had when running in the midst of the morning rush hour.

“I think cars could be a little better early in the morning,” Rathert said. “I’ve almost gotten hit a couple of times because I thought I made eye contact with the driver, and apparently I didn’t. I think early in the morning, people are tired. They haven’t had their coffee yet. That could be a little better.”

Raul Rodriguez lives on the east side of town and claims the People Trails make Columbus a runner-friendly city, but he has trouble finding running trails on his side of town. To find a safe running route, he often has to come west into town and usually hops on the People Trails for his runs. Many runners prefer the People Trails, especially for their longer runs.

Many of them like to map out their runs before taking off, and there are different strategies in doing so. Some runners like to plan an out-and-back route, but Rathert prefers to run loops so the scenery constantly changes.

Rathert runs on both the roads and the People Trails, and despite the morning traffic problems, she concurs with the Columbus being an overall safe town for runners mostly because of the People Trails. Lisa Williams, records supervisor for Columbus Police Department, said 22 pedestrians were hit by cars last year, but none of them said they had been running or jogging.

“The People Trails are great,” Rathert said. “You have so many access points on so many different sides of town.”