It was Geoffrey Chaucer who first coined the phrase “better late than never.”

And if you want to be specific, this is what Chaucer wrote: “For better than never is late” and he expressed that when he published The Canterbury Tales in 1386.

Our translation, then, is “better late than never,” which means it is better to do something after it was supposed to have been done than not to do it at all.

Long story short, welcome to the 2021 Med-City Marathon.

The Med-City Marathon was scheduled for May 24, 2020, then was rescheduled for Sept. 6, 2020, and finally postponed because of COVID-19. It was then pushed back to the Memorial Day weekend of 2021, but, again, that didn’t work out, so here we are today, the Med-City Marathon and all the supporting races will be held this Saturday and Sunday.

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And did we mention that this is the 25th anniversary of the marathon, albeit one year later?

“It’s been a long two years. We endured one of the hardest eras of our time,” said race director and race owner Mark Bongers. “I’m sure I’m not the only one ready to celebrate again.

“We weren’t ready to race in our traditional Memorial Day weekend last May so this is the best we could do. Not everything is the same but then again, so much has changed.”

And there’s an anniversary to celebrate as well.

“We’re calling this our 25th anniversary re-do because we couldn’t do all the things we wanted to do last year,” Bongers said.

The biggest change is a new course, with the start and finish lines by and near the Mayo Civic Center Arena.

The new course is two laps, basically heading east to the Quarry Hill Nature Center and then coming back west, following the north banks of Silver Lake before hitting the Cascade Creek area and then catching on to the bike path by the Zumbro River before heading back into downtown.

One lap for the half-marathoners and two laps, of course, for the full marathon.

From 1996 to 2006 the race started and finished in Rochester, but in 2007 the start was moved to Byron and it finished in Rochester. In 2019, it started near the Rochester International Airport and finished at the Mayo Civic Center

Once again, there will be a four-person relay, a half-marathon and a 20-mile training run along with the marathon. Saturday morning a 5K is scheduled.

“The marathon course is fairly flat, except for a hill near the Historical Society on West Circle Drive,” said Bongers. “Will runners like the new course? Who knows, and we’ll soon find out. It could be that we keep it like this in the future but that’s up in the air.”

Finding enough volunteers, police officers and medical personnel to compass an entire marathon course were the big factors in changing the course to two laps.

“Logistically, it just worked out better this way,” said Bongers. “Both the police department and Mayo medical are spread thin as it is, and we couldn’t tax or overburden them any further."

Through early this week, there are some 1,200 runners registered, which is down from previous marathon weekends. Some 250 kids are registered for the GLK Orthodontics Kids Marathon, a race which has generated close to 600 in previous years.

“The lower numbers are understandable,” Bongers said. “For 24 years the Med-City has become a tradition during Memorial Day and now here we’re doing it near the middle of September. That’s quite a change. There are a lot of things happening; it’s a crowded time of year.”

A positive? There will be no heat to worry about. It can get plenty hot the last weekend of May and, in fact, the 2018 marathon was cancelled because of the heat.

Marathon notes

• Bongers will honor those who have run all 25 years of the marathon: Ward Lenius, Allen Holtz, Pete Martin, Nels Pierson, Jeff Miller and Tom Perri.

Miller has four, top three finishes.

• Matt Barrett of Verona, Wis., is defending champion (2019), finishing in 2:29.16. Jia Xuan Huang of Shenandoah, Iowa is the defending women’s champion, finishing in 3:25.18.

• This will be only the second marathon in the past four years. The 2018 race was cancelled because of the heat.

• Race records: Male, Pete Gilman, 2:25,54 (2005), female, Kathy Neisse, 2:56.30 (2002).

• The Med-City was founded and directed by Wally and Peg Arnold.

• Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, then 50 and a U.S. Representative, finished the marathon in 4:46.22 in 2014.

• The race charity is the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester.

• • • • • • • •


When: Saturday, Sunday.

Where: Start and finish, Mayo Civic Center.

Race schedule: Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Fitness expo and packet pickup; 9:30:a.m., Altra Federal Union 5K; 11:30 a.m., Ronald McDonald Family Walk (1.8 miles); 1 p.m., GLK Orthodontics Kids Marathon. Note, Toddler Trot, Diaper Dash, Mascots Race, cancelled. Sunday, 5:30:a.m.-6:45 a.m., packet pickup; 7 a.m., Med-City Marathon, 20 mile, half-marathon, four-person relay. 10:15 a.m., half-marathon awards, 12:30 p.m., marathon awards.

To register: Runners or race volunteers may still signup through Saturday. Go to the website at