Run a marathon or half marathon in London on May 29

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(Posted April 19, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

What started out as a joke is now the opportunity to run a full or half marathon in London, Ohio, and benefit a good cause.

“Ever since I moved to London, I’ve thought it would be hilarious to be able to say, ‘I ran the London marathon,’” said David Mars, an Akron native who moved to Madison County a little over two years ago from Westerville. He’s been riffing on the London, England, comparison ever since.

Mars, who flips houses for a living and serves on London’s downtown revitalization committee, has run “bunches of marathons” and used to compete on an elite running team. Last year, COVID-19 shut down many in-person races. Now that such events are opening up again, he decided to make good on his joke and give people a chance to get out and race.

With the help of the London Community Organization, Mars is putting on a marathon and half marathon on May 29. The race starts and ends at Merri Mac Park.

“We’re going all out with a British theme. We’ll have a bagpiper at the start and finish and maybe the halfway mark. We have a British folk band that’s going to play. We’ll have British flags flying,” Mars said.

He also has incorporated a charitable element with help from Amy Rees, president of the London Community Organization (LCO). Rees suggested that he partner with LCO for the non-profit aspect. She then suggested he make Merri Mac Park the beneficiary. Rees works for the city of London; city leaders and community members are making a push this year to improve the park.

Mars expects 200 to 300 runners to sign up for either the full marathon (26.2 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles). Once out of Merri Mac Park, runners will head to Center Street and then on to the bike path headed toward West Jefferson. The turn-around is at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. He said the flat course should be a big draw.

“Everybody loves a flat course. As a marathon runner, I know how, in the late stages of a race, any hill or turn is your enemy. Your only friend is momentum. In London, we have a bike path that goes straight forever. That’s just a recipe for speed,” Mars said.

Anyone is welcome to enter the race. The entry fee for the marathon is $90 and comes with a full-zip, lightweight hooded sweatshirt, finisher medal, and swag from local businesses. The entry fee for the half marathon is $65 and comes with a vintage-style race shirt, medal, and promotional offers from local businesses. Registration runs through May 24.

Mars also welcomes elite athletes to enter the race. The time standards to qualify as an elite athlete are as follows: men’s marathon, 2:35 or better; men’s half marathon, 1:15; women’s marathon, 2:55; women’s half marathon, 1:25.

Prize money will go to the top finishers.

The race will start at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. if the heat index is above 80 degrees). Staggered start times are planned in accordance with health department guidelines for COVID-19. The course will remain open for five hours after the last competitor starts.

Volunteers are welcome.

“The more the merrier. It is helpful to have people on the course to look after the runners and make sure we run a safe event. Especially with it being a late-season marathon, it might be hot,” Mars said.

He also encourages non-entrants to make donations to benefit the park.

To sign up for the race and/or make a donation, go to London OH Marathon.

To volunteer or for other information, send email to davidtmars@gmail.com or visit “londonohmarathon” on Facebook.

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