New keys for Med-City Marathon

The founders and original race directors of the Med City Marathon are back in charge.

Wally and Peg Arnold stepped aside three years ago and the Rochester Family YMCA took over but that has all changed in the last three weeks.

The YMCA said it was no longer interested in running Rochester's biggest race of the year, leaving the Arnolds with three choices.

"We could have left the race die, we could take it over again or  we could find someone else to run it,'' said Wally Arnold. "We put too much time and effort to simply let the thing die and, really, it's too late to find someone else.

"It's like having kids; sometimes its nice to send them out the door, on their way but it's also nice having them come back.''


The Arnolds turned it over to the YMCA three years ago as a fundraiser, but they retained the name.

"We took on  the marathon as a fundraiser,'' Rochester Family YMCA Executive Director Steve Courts said, "and we put all of our staff time in running it against proceeds and it turned out we had very little return on our investment.

"And the whole reason we took on the marathon was a signature fundraiser.

"Although we won't be a partner, we still expect to be involved. We like the event and thought we did a good job with it but simply, weren't making nearly enough money.''

The 16th annual race, which includes the popular four-person relay and a half-marathon, will be run on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

"Anytime the YMCA decided they didn't want to run it anymore, they had to notify us,'' said Arnold, "and that's exactly what happened.''

The Arnolds assisted the Y in 2008 as a transition year. Last year, the Y hired the Final Stretch company to run the logistics of the race, and it will be retained by the new co-directors.

Marathon race numbers have declined in recent years, from a high of over 400 in the mid-2000s. In 2007 (the year after the race was stopped midway because of heat concerns), there were 312 marathoners, in 2008 that number dropped to 257, in 2009 there were 225, and last year, 217.


The relay field, however, usually is consistent at right around 400 (100 teams with four runners each). There are also over 200 half-marathoners and a number who run 20 miles as a training run.

A number of changes will be made, but not many are finalized but you can look for the course to be "tweaked,'' according to Wally Arnold.

Currently, the race starts in Byron and for the past three years finished next to the Y.

There's also discussion of having a 5K on the Saturday before the race along with introducing a race expo and tying the Med-City with the new Mankato Marathon which was run for the first time last month.


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