Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
Grand Lake Marathon set Saturday
By Colin Foster
The 2017 Grand Lake Marathon travels the same roadways as last year's. However,. . .
The course has been altered. New races have been added. Participation has increased, and a U.S. Olympian runner will be on hand.
The Grand Lake Marathon has come a long way in a few short years, and organizers anticipate the changes will provide participants and spectators with a better experience when the Saturday morning event returns for the fourth year.
"We've got a lot of people coming back, and we could potentially see a lot people who have never done this distance before, whether it's a half or a full, so that's very exciting," race co-director Ryan King said. "We're just continuing to focus on making this a great experience for them and hopefully bringing more people to Mercer and Auglaize counties."
Marathoners will run counter-clockwise around the lake this year to get the hardest stretch of the course (Guadalupe Road) out of the way sooner. Also new this year is one common finish area that includes several vendors and live music. The marathon, the half marathon, the full- and half-marathon relays, the 5K and the kids' and seniors' marathon will all finish on Lakeshore Drive in Celina. The half marathon had begun and finished in St. Marys for the first three years but will now start in St. Marys and finish in Celina.
"All finishes will be in Celina, so the atmosphere there should be substantially bigger, which is definitely an exciting piece of the day," King said. "It's one of those things where even if someone wasn't involved and just wanted to see what's going on, it could be a fun place to be."
This is the second year in which King and wife Amanda, co-owners of the Piqua-based Can't Stop Running Co., have organized the event.
The most important information the Kings wanted to share was how the course changes will affect the times and delays along local roadways. The most notable change is that State Route 703 will have single-lane access from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
"The 703 and the residents who are in there, that's the big story," King said. "Everything else is actually quicker and simpler than it was previously."
Residents on 703 are instructed to turn east and then take the next closest road onto State Route 29, King said. Deputies will be at the majority of roads assisting with traffic control.
"If drivers choose to use State Route 703, they need to plan for the possibility of significant delays," Celina Police Chief Tom Wale said via email. "They should plan accordingly or use a different route if possible."
The other main road affected by the marathon in Celina is East Market Street, which is scheduled to have limited access for most of the day. Schwieterman's Pharmacy is the only business along the stretch that is scheduled to be closed for the event. Pizza Hut will delay its opening until after the marathon traffic passes in the early afternoon.
On East Market Street, all eastbound traffic will shift to the center turn lane, Wale noted. The street will be coned off with officers directing traffic into and out of Wendy's and Dairy Queen.
The half marathon will take off at Memorial Park in St. Marys. South Street will have law enforcement directing traffic at the intersections at Main Street and Wayne Street. All other intersections on South Street will be barricaded until after the runners are through.
Law enforcement and EMA volunteers also will be at the intersections of State Route 364 and Southland Road, Southland and Tri-Township roads, State Route 219 and Tri-Township Road, Weasch and Tri-Township roads and Greenville and Tri-Township roads. Traffic will be allowed across until the time of the race and delays should be expected after then.
State Route 364 will be blocked as runners cross. State routes 364 and 703 will be closed to all westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic can exit Villa Nova, but westbound traffic will be blocked off at the Roller Rink. All access inside of Villa Nova will be blocked at Parkway Drive to the East Bank Park entrance of State Route 703. Sandy Beach will be monitored with personnel and will be blocked during race times.
A seniors' marathon was added this year. It will be run in increments, the same format as for the kids' marathon, with 25 miles run over a period of time before finishing the last mile on race day.
Event participation is up 13 percent, King said. The event is projected to have 1,200-1,300 competitors. Most come from the two-county area, King said, but it also attracts people from nearly 20 different states on average. Among those returning are two-time champion Justin Gillette (2014-2015) and last year's winner Jason Barhorst.
U.S. Olympic marathoner Jared Ward, 27, will take part in festivities all weekend long and is scheduled to run in the half marathon. Ward was an All-American runner for Brigham Young University, who currently works for the institution as a statistics professor. He finished sixth in his Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. He also placed 10th at last year's Boston Marathon.
Speaking of the Boston Marathon, the Grand Lake Marathon, considered one of the fastest courses in Ohio, serves as a qualifier for the prestigious race in Beantown.