Back To Normal: Full marathon race returns to Columbus after being absent since 2019

For the first time since 2019, the Mill Race Marathon is back to normal with the full marathon, half marathon and 5K all scheduled to take place on Saturday morning.

The entire Mill Race Marathon was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the 5K and the half marathon were still contested, but the full marathon was canceled due to not having enough volunteers.

The volunteers came out in full force this year with as many as 900 people helping out with the race, according to race director Randy Stafford.

“We are actually filled up on volunteers. We have every volunteer spot covered that we needed,” Stafford said. “People responded this year, and it’s been really good.”

Stafford mentioned that more than 2,000 runners have registered for the race for the full, half and 5K combined. Stafford said that number is still down from the pre-COVID numbers.

Even with the numbers a bit down, Stafford said they are tracking a little bit better than other area races, which he said is encouraging.

“We’re above where we were in 2021, but we are not back to where we were in 2019,” Stafford said. “When I look at all the other area races that we compare ourselves to, those races aren’t back to 2019. Comparatively, we’re doing better of getting closer to 2019 than a lot of the other races have. Most of the races may be down 30% participation when you go back to pre-COVID. Right now, it looks like we’re down maybe 20%.”

Stafford said Friday’s Kids Fun Run has just under 1,000 entrants, which is its best turnout since 2017.

“It’s looking like we are returning to pre-COVID numbers,” he said.

Stafford said there is not any specific COVID restrictions or protocols this year for the race. However, there will be masks at the race if volunteers, workers or racers want to wear one.

“This is no guidance from CDC, state or local at the moment,” Stafford said. “There’s nothing we can implement. We do have masks that we are going to make available if people would like to use them. It’s back to normal pretty much for the runners, as well.”

Among the entrants in this year’s full marathon are last year’s half marathon winner, Will Caldwell of Covington, Kentucky, along with former women’s full marathon winners April Woo of Louisville (2016) and Laurah Lukin of Cincinnati (2018).

It is not too late to get registered for the event. The pre-registration cost through Thursday is $95 for the full marathon, $80 for the half marathon and $30 for the 5K.

Anyone can pre-register on Friday, but the cost will be slightly higher. It will be $110 for the full marathon, $95 for the half marathon and $35 for the 5K. There will be no race-day registration on Saturday this year.

The weather forecast is shaping up to be great with temperatures in the upper 70s for the daytime high under partly sunny skies.