Runners, organizers getting ready for 42nd annual St. George Marathon

File photo shows Aaron Fletcher, of Lindon, crossing the finish line of the 41st annual St. George Marathon in a new course record time of 2:14:45. St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Nearly 6,000 runners are expected to participate in the 42nd annual St. George Marathon Saturday.

Saturday’s weather forecast for St. George shows a 60 percent chance of rain, with a high of 71 and a low of 50 degrees.

File photo shows St. George Mayor Jon Pike with top three overall female placers Nicole Lyons, Rosy Lee and Tara Lewis in the 41st annual St. George Marathon. St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2017 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

The race, which started in 1977 with just 57 participants, has since grown into the 16th largest marathon in the country. It has been cited by Runner’s World magazine for being the best organized marathon, in addition to one of the fastest and most scenic fall marathons.

“The St. George Marathon, to me, feels like a big family reunion each year,” said Kami Ellsworth, race operations manager. “I look forward all year long to reuniting with friends I have made over the last 12 years and knowing these friendships will last a lifetime. I look forward to making new friends and welcoming our first-time runners into the St. George Marathon family.”

Last year, 4,750 runners finished the race, with top overall finisher Aaron Fletcher setting a new course record with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 44 seconds.

Read more: Runner shatters course record at St. George Marathon

According to organizers, this year’s registered entrants hail from 47 U.S. states and 17 foreign countries. Approximately 55 percent are male and 45 percent are female, with runners ranging in age from under 14 years old to more than 80. More than 3,000 registrants list Utah as their home state, including nearly 800 from Washington County.

File photo shows handcyclists after completing the 41st annual St. George Marathon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2017 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

More than 100 new runners are expected to be inducted into the various decade milestone clubs, organizers said. The race’s prestigious Ten-Year Club, which now boasts 1,444 runners who’ve completed the race 10 times or more, is expected to add as many as 81 new members this year. The Twenty-Year Club, which has 260 members, could grow by another two dozen. In addition, 10 more runners may join the Thirty-Year Club, boosting its ranks from 44 to 54.

In addition, Debbie Zockoll, the only runner to have participated in all 41 past St. George Marathons, is scheduled to run the race again this year.

The race’s scheduled start time is 6:45 a.m. Saturday, with those in the wheelchair and handcrank divisions starting five minutes ahead of the main group of runners. Shuttle buses will take the runners from Vernon Worthen Park to the starting line between 3:45 and 5:20 a.m.

“In my opinion, the start line is by far the best part of the event,” Ellsworth said. “Nothing compares to driving up to Central in the dark and seeing the entire start line glowing in the distance, flags waving and fires burning. The excitement felt there is indescribable. Thousands of runners, huddled around bonfires, giving words of encouragement to those around them. That moment makes all the hard work worth it.”

Several thousand spectators are also expected to line the streets to watch and cheer on the runners. Click links to see a complete spectator chart and location map that provide descriptions of viewing locations, along with estimated runner arrival times. Bleacher seating for spectators is available at the finish line, and there are many places to watch along the streets, particularly during the last three miles of the race, as the runners make their way to the finish line at Vernon Worthen Park, 300 S. 400 East.

There will be reservation-only spectator parking, limited to 325 vehicles, within Snow Canyon State Park. Tickets are $4 and must be purchased in advance from Reserve America at the following link. Park officials note that traffic will be heavy and 1.5-3 miles of hiking is involved to reach the viewing area, so spectators should plan accordingly. Those planning to watch runners from Snow Canyon will not have time to leave the park and reach the finish line. Parking is only available between 6 a.m. and noon; all vehicles not moved by noon will be towed at the owner’s expense. Spectators should be prepared to hike uphill in exposed conditions. For more information please contact park staff at 435-628-2255.

Road closure information

Map of downtown road closures. Click to enlarge | Graphic courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

Motorists can expect heavy delays, as the majority of the course will be closed to vehicle traffic throughout the duration of Saturday’s race. State Route 18 will be closed from the starting line at Central/SR-18 on the north to the Ledges on the south during the race, with traffic being diverted. Any on-course travel will be by escort only. Officers from Utah Highway Patrol and Washington County Sheriff’s Office will be stationed at all intersections along the course to assist motorists if travel or access is absolutely necessary.

Motorists are asked to obey all traffic and parking laws, in addition to officers and volunteers directing traffic. Please observe reduced speed limits. Bicyclists will be restricted to the bike trails along the route.

The road reopening at Central will proceed south behind the race and reach Veyo at approximately 8:30 a.m. and Snow Canyon State Park after 11 a.m. SR-18 will be open to two-way local traffic from the Ledges south to Snow Canyon Parkway throughout the event.

SR-18 is expected to fully reopen to unrestricted traffic sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Runners must finish the race before 1 p.m. Prior to the road reopening, there will be some escorted traffic as the runners thin out and as the final runners approach the various detour routes.

For more detailed information about road closures, including course maps and detour routes, click here. Those with questions may also visit the website or call the marathon hotline at 435-627-4500.

Friday events

Altra Zero Drop Health & Fitness Expo

File photo shows attendees searching a bin for discounted St. George Marathon shirts at the Altra Health and Fitness Expo at the Dixie Center St. George, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2017. | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Runners can pick up their runner packets, runner shirts and bib numbers Friday at St. George Marathon’s popular health and fitness expo, featuring dozens of vendors. The expo provides ample opportunity to mix and mingle with other runners, attend clinics, take part in free health testing and see what’s new in running apparel and gear. Free promotional items will be given away every half hour throughout the day. Attendees can also get in the spirit of the marathon by purchasing souvenirs and tickets to the pasta dinner.

  • When: Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where: Dixie Center St. George, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George.

Pasta dinner

The annual all-you-can eat pasta dinner is located next door to the expo in the Dixie Center St. George. Bring family and friends and enjoy great food and great company. Tickets will be on sale at the expo or at the door.

  • When: Friday, 4-8 p.m.
  • Where: Dixie Center St. George, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George.
  • Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Move it! Kids Fun Run

This is a kids-only event, no parents allowed. Bring your children and friends to run either of two distances: 1 mile or 200 meters. If your child is under 5, they may choose to run with one of the Move It! mentors.

  • When: Friday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Vernon Worthen Park, 300 S. 400 East, St. George.
  • Cost: $10 per person, which includes T-shirt and finisher’s medallion.
  • Registration information.

I am ABLE

Open to persons of all ages with disabilities. Each participant must be able to run, walk, roll or be pushed either 200 meters or 1 mile. Each participant is required to have one person without disabilities accompany them from the start of their event to the finish line.

  • When: Friday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Vernon Worthen Park, 300 S. 400 East, St. George.
  • Cost: $10 for teams of two. Participants may register up to two additional supporters for another $10 per person. Includes T-shirt and finisher’s medallion.
  • Registration information.

Move it! Dance Party

Participants and their families can stay in the park after Friday evening’s races and take photos with Waddles the Penguin, dance to music, win prizes, play games and much more. Come help turn the night before the marathon into a big race celebration.

  • When: Friday, 6:30-8 p.m.
  • Where: Vernon Worthen Park, 300 S. 400 East, St. George.

Saturday pre-race event

Mayor’s Walk

File photo shows Mayor’s Walk participants enjoying breakfast in the park, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

St. George Mayor Jon Pike will lead up to 800 participants, including school children, friends, families and business associates, in a 2.1-mile walk from Sand Town Park to the St. George Marathon finish line. Participants may register online or at the expo booth Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

  • When: Saturday, 6:45-8 a.m. | Walk starts promptly at 7 a.m., and all walkers must finish by 8 a.m. to ensure an open course for the marathon’s wheelchair division.
  • Where: Starts at Sand Town Park, 700 N. Bluff St., St. George.
  • Cost: $10, includes T-shirt, door prize drawings and post-walk refreshments.
  • Registration information.

For more information, visit the St. George Marathon website or download the 16-page 2018 Runners Guide.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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1 Comment

  • mesaman October 2, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    And who started the first ever annual marathon? His name, Robert Horlacher, a coach at DSC.

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