Directors re-route Med City Marathon to avoid trains
Trains and runners generally don't mix. And especially so when there's hundreds of runners involved. Case in point was the 2001 Med City Marathon.
Trains and runners generally don't mix.
And especially so when there's hundreds of runners involved.
Case in point was the 2001 Med City Marathon. The last thing anyone expected at that point — the 23rd mile of the race — was a train cutting through the course.
But sure enough, a train did cross, causing a delay of about five minutes. Obviously, those runners who made it past that point before the train weren't affected, but for everyone else, tough luck. They had to wait some 5-10 minutes before resuming their run.
Last year, at about the 25-mile mark of the race — close to the end — there was another train delay. Same scenario, several runners made it through before the train arrived but others had to wait it out. That was bad enough but to make matters worse, it was an ugly, rainy, cold and windy day.
No one was happy.
That won't happen this year when the 19th edition of the 2014 Med City Marathon is run on Sunday. Race co-director Wally Arnold figured enough is enough so he changed the course. The new course will only cross tracks at the start of the race.
"I couldn't get a commitment from Canadian Pacific that trains would be stopped during our event,'' Arnold said. "They weren't willing to work with us.''
Runners will cross train tracks just once, but less than a mile into the race which starts in Byron.
In fact, just past the 11-mile marker near Quarry Hill, the railroad tracks run along a bridge, with the runners going underneath.
"There is more than one way to skin a cat,'' said Arnold.
Thus, there is a new course.
It once again starts in Byron by the elementary school and right away, runners head to Rochester on County Road 22 for six miles. Except for for the elimination of one westerly loop in Byron, that part of the course hasn't changed.
Once in Rochester, runners run along Seventh St. to Quarry Hill. At the prison, the half marathoners head to Center Street en route to the finish line in front of the Mayo Civic Center Arena.
The marathoners move south to the Rochester Community and Technical College, reach Bear Creek Park, head to 20th Street S.E., loop around Reserection Church, march to Soliders Field, to Apache Mall and then head back to the finish.
"There are some rolling hills at the start, but mostly it's a flat course with some nice scenery along a few different trails,'' said Arnold. "The main thing, though, we won't have to worry about any trains.''
This year's Med City Marathon will be the first in its 19-year history to draw more than 3,000 participants.
In other words, this is a record-breaking year.
"And we still have two days (to register) left,'' said Arnold. "We were able to get the word out through a variety of sources and I think the runners also know that we put on a pretty good race.''
The final tally last year was 2,991, then a record.
So far this year, there are 3,144 in the seven different races.
It breaks down like this: marathon (410), half marathon (950), four-person relay (428) and 20-mile (33). On Saturday, there is the 5K (415), Kids Marathon (735), toddler trot (148) and diaper dash (25).
The record number of marathoners is 526.
"Several have transferred from the marathon to the half marathon mainly due to the hard winter we had,'' said Arnold. "They simply didn't have enough time to train.''
Hot, cold and now . . .
Two years ago, the marathon was close to being called off due to excessive heat. In fact, the Mad City Marathon in Madison, Wis., was cancelled.
Last year, runners in the Med City were greeted by cold, a persistent rain which started two hours into the race and a nasty easterly wind.
"I won't look at the forecast closely until late in the week,'' said Arnold. "Obviously, there's not anything you can do but at least it looks promising.''
The early forecast calls for scattered showers Sunday and Monday with temperatures close to 80.
Parking ramps closed
The city of Rochester has closed the Civic Center parking ramp for cleaning this weekend. The ramp is across the street from the finish line and where runners pick up the shuttle to take out to Byron for the start of the race.
"Not ideal for us,'' Arnold said. "It's one of those things you can't control, but you try and control everything else. But it is frustrating, and I'm not exactly happy about it.''
There will be parking available, but a couple of blocks away.
Tim Hardy of North Mankato won the 2014 Med City in 2:41.14. Hilary Faraver of Des Moines was the women's champion, winning in 3:09.00.
So far, neither has entered this year's race.
• Four-time winner Pete Gilman will not run on Sunday. He had knee surgery recently.
• There are 34 states, two provinces and two other countries entered. Minnesota leads with 105 entries followed by Wisconsin (82), Iowa (75) and Illinois (40).
South Dakota and California each have 11 entries.
(All Saturday events will be at Mayo Civic Center)
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Med City Fitness Expo
10 a.m. to 6 p.m Race packet pickup
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Kids Play Zone
11 a.m. Med City Kids Marathon
Noon Diaper Dash/Toddler Trot
1 p.m. Mascot races
3 p.m. 5K run/walk
4 p.m. Happy Hour (free beer)
4:15 p.m. 5K awards
5:20 a.m. to 6:20 a.m. Buses from Rochester to start in Byron
5:30 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. Race day packet pickup, Byron Elementary School
7 a.m. Med City Marathon, half-marathon,
four-person relay, 20-mile
8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Finish line, Mayo Civic Center
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kids Play Zone
10:30 a.m. Half-marathon awards
10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Post-race party (free beer)
Noon Marathon and marathon relay awards
8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Post race party, Dooleys (Band SWITCH).