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The Mill Race Marathon will return next fall on the final weekend of September.
The 2014 race will be Sept. 27, making it an annual community event.
Race organizers, still recovering from all the work that went into planning the first marathon, have a laundry list of items to discuss. That includes a number of possible changes to make the next race bigger and better.
Dave Crompton, a Columbus-based Cummins Inc. executive who helped lead the race efforts, said he never envisioned starting the new event slowly.
After first aiming for up to 4,000 runners and walkers this year, the next step will be to determine the best number for future races before launching nationwide promotion efforts. About half the participants this year were from Columbus.
“We’ll have to find the right size and best size for the community,” said Crompton, the Cummins vice president and general manager for its engine business.
During a meeting Thursday, representatives of groups that took part in marathon planning said feedback was overwhelmingly positive, even with some complaints and suggested changes.
Race coordinator Ken Long said the final tally of registered participants was 4,721. Some adjustments were made after the Sept. 28 race day because several runners changed races — from the marathon to half-marathon or half-marathon to 5K — in the final days leading up to the race.
The last-minute registrations resulted in some runners temporarily being counted twice.
Long noted that 87 percent of those who signed up ran and finished the race. Typically, no-shows and nonfinishers drag that number down to 75 percent to 80 percent, he said.
He attributed the high number of finishers to good weather that topped out about 82 degrees and a Ram truck giveaway.
Long, a 35-year race-
organizing veteran, said some of the race’s success could be attributed to other factors, too.
Many runners liked that the Columbus course took them through the city neighborhoods and past architectural sites and said they enjoy being part of inaugural marathons, Long said. Other local residents got caught up in the enthusiasm and were first-time marathon participants who had the support of the Columbus Running Club, which offered a free training program.
“We’ve just had a ton of positive comments,” he said.
Long and other planners said they heard several participants mention they were surprised that this was the first time for the city to host the event. They liked how smooth packet pickup went, the friendly people offering assistance before and during the race, and the many post-race activities.
John Kestler and Jim Dietz, who helped coordinate parking and shuttle buses, said more riders took advantage of the shuttles than originally expected, particularly in the morning.
“I’m not sure any of the three garages were ever filled, and I never heard anyone say they couldn’t find a place to park,” Kestler said.
Some shuttle riders heading to the 5K event, however, arrived at the shuttle lots at about 8 a.m. after road closures began and missed the 9 a.m. start of their race.
Organizers said they will encourage 5K participants to be at the race start earlier next year, even though the 5K doesn’t start until one hour after the marathon and half-marathon.
Other changes will include setting up the starting area earlier, so runners can line up with other runners who keep a similar pace. One of the most hectic times of the day was about 7:30 a.m. when the majority of runners and walkers filled the area around Brown and Jackson streets preparing for the 8 a.m. start.
Race organizers also learned that helping direct runners, especially those not familiar with Columbus, is critical at intersections or other areas where it might be easy for them to take a wrong turn.
This happened at 11th and Franklin streets at the 4½-mile marker when some of the elite runners went straight instead of turning right. By going off course, they ended up being disqualified.
Randy Stafford, a member of the race organizing committee, said the mix-up was a result of a combination of factors, including:
A large number of spectators in the area.
Not enough signs and
confusion based on a police car, bicycle rider and motorcycle rider in the area either leading or following runners, who were beginning to separate based on the speed of the full and half-
marathon running pace.
Stafford said he thought the turn was clear, but next year he’ll have a volunteer at that intersection to make sure everyone turns right.
Long said police are stationed at intersections to direct traffic, not runners, so he would recommend having at least two volunteers at each turn on the course. He also would suggest placing fencing at this intersection to keep spectators off the street since this ended up being a spot with many race watchers.
Beth Morris, director of community health partnerships for Columbus Regional Hospital, said organizers of the Kids Fun Run will discuss changes for next year when its committee meets later this month. These could include separating races for the youngest children and finding new ways to connect parents and children after the races are over.
Morris said the beginning of the race found children and parents together in the opening shoot, resulting in a log jam. This also slowed things down at the end as parents were looking for their children.
“We’ll look for ways to address the movement of children and make improvements,” Morris said.
Laura Chasse, a member of the organizing committee, said all of the feedback will be used as organizers plan for next year.
Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix said police received complaint calls, mostly about traffic and road closures. But overall, he said the day went smoothly.
Columbus Fire Chief Dave Allmon said everyone working together made for a successful day as workers and volunteers prepared for a range of
“I was very proud to be a citizen of Columbus,” Allmon said.
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