(Posted Dec. 13, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
It went so well the first time, they’re doing it again!
The Merrimac Park Miracle organization will host the second annual London Marathon and Half-Marathon on April 30. London resident David Mars returns as the race director.
The inaugural event was held this past spring, attracted nearly 200 runners, and raised $10,000 for improvements to Merrimac Park in London. Mars was pleased with those results, especially considering the short time in which the race was organized. With more time to plan and promote, he is hoping for even better results the second time around.
“We’re looking to improve on it, make it bigger, and give a bigger check to Merrimac Miracle,” Mars said.
One of the biggest changes is the race date. This year, the race took place in late May. Organizers chose late April for next year’s race, the idea being that temperatures typically are cooler at that time of year, and, therefore, more ideal for runners. (As it turned out, the temperatures on race day this year were at record lows for late May.)
Another change is the introduction of checkpoints. Runners who are in the lead at certain points along the course will win prizes. It’s an extra incentive designed to encourage faster racing and potentially reward more runners. And speaking of rewards, Mars is seeking sponsorships to increase the prize money for the winners. The aim is to attract more elite runners.
The overall goal is to attract more runners period–no matter how fast or experienced they are–but there will be a capacity cap of 600 runners.
While the date and some of the incentives are new, one facet of the race that is not changing is the flat, straight course, which Mars considers to be one of the event’s main selling points. Starting and ending at Merrimac Park, the route runs through downtown London, onto the bike path headed toward West Jefferson, and to the turn-around point at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. The out-and-back course is ideal for setting personal records.
“I think it’s a great course. As far as being fast, it doesn’t get much faster. It’s very unique in that it is so straight. Most courses are going to have loops; that might be more interesting, but it’s not as fast. In marathons, momentum is your friend,” Mars said.
Another selling point: the course is USA Track & Field certified which means it measures exactly 13.1 miles for the half-marathon and exactly 26.2 miles for the full marathon. Times recorded at the race can be used to meet qualifying standards for other races, such as the Boston Marathon.
Organizers also are sticking with the British theme, having fun with the London, Ohio/London, England concept. A bagpiper will once again play at the start of the race. Mile markers will feature pictures of landmarks one would see along the London, England marathon course. Mars said a quintessential British-style phone booth might even make an appearance.
Currently, entry fees are $70 for the half-marathon and $90 for the full marathon. The prices increase after March 31. A half-marathon entry comes with a vintage-style race shirt with the race logo, a finisher’s medal, and promotional offers from local businesses. A full marathon entry comes with a full-zip, lightweight hooded sweatshirt with the race logo, a finisher’s medal, and swag from local businesses.
Start time for all runners is 7 a.m. The course will stay open for five hours after the last competitor starts.
Visit London OH Marathon for more information and to sign up.