COLUMBIA CITY — The Veterans Marathon is not just another running event. It is a morning that puts Columbia City on the map in running circles.
After flood waters forced the New York City Marathon to be cancelled, Columbia City is anticipating an influx of additional runners, increasing exposure to the city as well as the Whitley County area.
Mayor Ryan Daniel said the event will be an economic boost to the area.
“There are people coming from all over and even from other countries. This might be the only time they are in Columbia City or even Indiana, so I hope the residents show these guests lots of hospitality,” Daniel said.
There will be some congested areas within the city on Friday night and Saturday morning.
“I think by noon on Saturday, you won’t be able to tell we’ve had an event,” said Mayor Daniel. “There will be a little bit of traffic Saturday, but it will be minor considering the benefits this event brings.”
Saturday, at 7:30 a.m. the marathon will gear up for the race that begins at 8 a.m. Honor guards of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marines will lead in the opening ceremonies. Marching bands will also be playing patriotic music during the opening festivities and a vintage military club will perform a fly-over.
The marathon will support those displaced by recent storms. When a New York City Marathon runner enters their bib number upon registration for the Veterans Marathon, a $5 donation will be made to the American Red Cross.
For four years, this race has been the vision of longtime local race director Gary Bird, who is also USA Track and Field-certified. His expertise allows the race to be sanctioned as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
At 8:15 a.m. the 5K run will start with all the fanfare.
The aircraft is a unique presentation. Since this year’s marathon focuses particularly on the U.S. Air Force, four to five vintage military aircraft will start off the events.
Race organizers said, “The event is always looking to draw more spectators, volunteers and business participation to honor our veterans. Several aide stations along the course have embraced the race, by providing not only aide and safety, but a party atmosphere to encourage the runners.”
In effort to create a celebration, Shade Jonze and the J Taylors will perform at the gazebo on the courthouse lawn Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. The groups will mix country and rock songs to welcome runners for registration.
“Patriotic songs will be mixed with lots of great Americana,” said Jonze.
This year there will be an additional station called a “lipstick station” right before the finish line. On the marathon side, there will be a small sample beer station.
For more information on the race, visit www.veteransmarathon.com .