It’s marathon day: Mill Race Marathon, half marathon and 5K runners ready to race

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Runners run warm up sprints and gather at the start line was they wait for the Mill Race Marathon to begin in Columbus, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

About 2,600 runners and walkers will take to the streets of Columbus this morning for the 11th Annual Mill Race Marathon, half marathon and 5K.

Those numbers are up from last year, but a little below what the races saw from the event’s inception in 2013 through 2019. All of the events were canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the full marathon was canceled in 2021 because of a shortage of medical volunteers.

“We’re still down a little bit from pre-COVID, but we’re up 10 or more percent from last year,” race director Randy Stafford said. “We’re getting much closer to the pre-COVID numbers. We’re not quite where we wanted to be, but we’re happy with it.”

As of Wednesday, 212 runners were registered for the full marathon, while 1,163 were signed up for the half marathon and 1,218 for the 5K. Last year’s numbers were 206 for the full marathon, 1,124 for the half marathon and 994 for the 5K.

When the full marathon returned last year after its absence in 2020 and 2021, the second half of the marathon was basically a second loop of the half marathon course.

“We’re still a few volunteers short, but we’re also adding people, so I think we’ll get there,” Stafford said. “We’re really good on medical. It’s just one or two here and there that would be nice to have to fill some holes.”

This year, the majority of the second half of the marathon will be run on the People Trails. Race organizers have added three more water stations on People Trails that runners will be able access going out and again coming back.

“One of the things this year is to use the Hawcreek People Trail for the second half of the marathon,” Stafford said. There’s a lot of shade on the People Trail, so that will keep them cooled off.”

The marathon will include at least two former winners, including defending champion Will Caldwell of Covington, Kentucky. Caldwell won the Mill Race half marathon in 2021 and the full marathon last year.

Bryan Morseman of Wheeler, New York, who won the marathon in 2015 and 2018, is entered for the first time since he finished runner-up in 2019. Morseman also was among the leaders in the inaugural race in 2013, but was led off course and disqualified from an official finish, although he was compensated with prize money.

Stafford said Lindsey and Brown streets and 11th Street from Washington to the roundabout should reopen to traffic by around 8:30 a.m., Third Street and State Street should reopen by around 9:30 a.m. and Washington Street from 17th to Eighth should reopen by noon.

Forecasts are calling for highs in the 80s, but that temperature likely won’t be reached until the afternoon.

“It looks like it may be warmer (than in the past couple years), but it’s still supposed to be pretty cool in the morning,” Stafford said. “By 11:30, we’ll have the 5K and all of the half marathon done.”

Proceeds from the Mill Race Marathon benefit Healthy Communities and the Columbus Parks Foundation and its programs through the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department. Sponsors are Columbus Regional Health, German American and Cummins.