Follow The Republic:
Navigating portions of Columbus by car will be a little tricky Saturday during the Mill Race Marathon.
Patience will be key as more than 4,000 walkers and runners and as many as 12,000 visitors arrive for the inaugural event.
If you are thinking of pulling up to a parking space downtown a block away from where you want to go, think again. Parking will be at a premium.
Riding a bicycle might be a good idea. And shuttle buses will be available to bypass some of the travel headaches.
Even if residents do not plan to go downtown, they still should check marathon course maps. The marathon route might affect neighborhood streets or roads residents usually take to get to work, shopping or other activities.
The 26.2-mile event winds through a good portion of the city, starting downtown, east to Columbus East High School, over to Richards Elementary School, north to Columbus Municipal Airport and back downtown.
Some roads will be closed temporarily, while others will have lane restrictions or be open only in one direction.
Police advise residents to plan ahead, whether they are going to the marathon, heading to work or planning a garage sale.
And for those who still do not know the city is having a marathon, an automated phone call from the Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center will go out to city residents this week, said Ed Reuter, the center’s director.
Be patient, plan
Organizers said the biggest area affected will be downtown, where the marathon and half-marathon begin at 8 a.m. and 5 kilometer at 9 a.m. near the Cummins Inc. Corporate Office Building on Brown Street between Fifth and Eighth streets.
Street closures will occur throughout the day around the Jackson, Brown, Fourth, Fifth and Washington street areas to accommodate race activities, a health expo and outdoor entertainment.
Drivers who need to get through the downtown area can find an open road but should check the marathon course maps and road closure lists for specifics.
Third Street heading west to Jonathan Moore Pike will be open, for example, except restrictions that will delay traffic between 8:10 and 8:40 a.m. and 9:10 and 9:40 a.m.
Police advise motorists, especially those going through downtown, to allow for extra driving time or to alter schedules or routes if possible.
The biggest traffic disruptions will subside once marathon participants are off the course by about 2:30 p.m.
Downtown street closures, however, primarily around The Commons and Fourth Street, will continue through Saturday evening for the Finish on Fourth party.
Columbus Police Capt. Mike Richardson said residents who live on roads that are closed for a portion of Saturday, including Gladstone Avenue by Garland Brook Cemetery and Indiana Avenue near Columbus East High School, are being asked to plan ahead so they do not have to leave their cars during the day on Saturday unless necessary.
Richardson said this could include planning trips on Friday or Saturday evening or parking their cars in another location. Those who must leave, to go to work, for example, will be allowed with assistance by police.
Residents who live in neighborhoods along the marathon route where the streets are not closed are advised to use caution and be alert for runners and walkers on the roads. Dozens of police officers and volunteers will be stationed throughout the city to help direct traffic.
On marathon morning, people who are registered for race events, as well as downtown race volunteers and workers, will have assigned parking areas at downtown garages and lots.
Residents not involved directly with the marathon will have to find parking elsewhere but will be encouraged to take free shuttle buses from satellite parking lots.
John Kestler of Cummins Inc., a member of the parking committee, said this inaugural marathon will be a learning year, but they are planning for a very busy morning.
Community members should know that the biggest parking challenge will be between 6 and 10 a.m., Kestler said. This is when color-coded passes must be shown to have access to the downtown parking garages and Cummins’ parking lots.
Organizers believe much of the parking congestion will dissipate after about 10 a.m. when many of the runners and walkers will have completed their events and headed home or back to their hotels. At 10 a.m., restrictions on parking downtown will be lifted, and others can park in the garages and lots.
The second-busiest time Saturday will be at about 3 p.m. when a Ram truck will be given away to one finisher of the marathon or half-marathon in front of The Commons. Once the giveaway is over, many of those people will leave before returning in the evening for the downtown Finish on Fourth party.
A parking lot designated for the handicapped will be set up at Eighth and Jackson streets. No passes will be needed for drivers with handicapped placards or license plates.
Runners and walkers will receive parking signs to be placed on the front dashboards of their vehicles. They will receive these in information packets at the Health and Fitness Expo, which will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at The Commons.
Kestler said runners and walkers will be asked by volunteers about their parking needs to determine how many passes to distribute.
“We believe there will be a fair amount of carpooling,” Kestler said.
Many of the race participants, for example, are husbands and wives or family groups who naturally might ride in the same car, he said.
Kestler said downtown does not have 4,000 open spaces in parking garages and Cummins parking lots to accommodate each marathon participant.
Spectators from Columbus, however, might know of other spaces that would be available. This might include on-street parking, the county lot at Third and Lafayette streets and various churches in the downtown area that allow parking when services are not being held.
Kestler said downtown has plenty of experience with big events, such as Rock the Park and the Festival of Lights parade in December, so he is optimistic that the day’s parking should go smoothly.
The marathon committee also has designated a specific parking area for downtown workers, primarily for those who will be working at restaurants during the evening entertainment events.
This will allow them to have access to free parking. The Cummins lot is at Sixth and California streets, and workers can be picked up by the free shuttle buses.
Satellite parking, shuttle buses
Others can ride the free shuttles if they would like to avoid parking hassles on marathon day.
Two shuttle buses will run continuously from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday from each of the three satellite parking sites. The downtown drop-off will be on Jackson Street between Second and Third streets next to the Bartholomew County Courthouse and The Cole apartments.
Shuttle buses will pick up riders at the westside Walmart on Merchants Mile, the Cummins Technical Center on McKinley Street and the Columbus Engine Plant on Central Avenue near the big C at the entrance near the traffic light.
Marathon sponsors will pay Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. for use of school buses as the shuttles and for the drivers’ time.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.