The Columbia SC Marathon has changed its course. Literally.
Last years inaugural marathon began and ended near the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This year, because the circus is in town through Sunday at the adjacent Colonial Life Arena, the marathon had to move to alleviate traffic concerns.
The marathon will now begin on Sumter Street near Town Theatre. Runners will race down Main Street to the finish line at Gervais Street. Dan Hartley, the marathons director, said he initially wanted the course to end at Main and Gervais.
If youre going to have a marathon here, what better place to have a finish line? he said.
Heres a quick look at the marathon.
Get set, go: The marathon, Columbia SC Marathon Relay and Famously Hot Half-Marathon begin at 7:30 a.m.; the Columbia SC 5K at 7:35 a.m.; and the Columbia SC Kids Marathon at 8 a.m.
The course: Like last year, the marathon will require two loops to reach the required 26.2 miles. But last year, half marathoners made different turns than the marathoners.
This year I wanted to make sure the marathoners and half marathoners ran the exact same thing on the first loop, Hartley said.
Since the race begins on Sumter Street and ends at Main and Gervais streets, the second loop is roughly a 1/10 of a mile longer. To account for the distance between finish and start, runners will make two fewer turns (they will continue on Sumter to Blossom Street instead of going from Sumter to College to Main and then Blossom) at the start of the second loop.
The course, part 2: Save for the new start and finish, the course looks very similar. Theres still the scenic route through neighborhoods such as Lake Katherine and Shandon, and runners will have to contend with the long, but fairly straight stretch from Trenholm Road to Gervais Street that will undoubtedly be an area of separation.
One glaring difference is that the climb up Blossom Street to Five Points at the start of the loops has been eliminated. But the tough hill at Saluda Avenue still awaits. Still, this course is easier.
That was a pretty significant hill, Hartley said of Blossom Street. For the folks running the full, theres two significant hills out of it right there. So theres definitely less elevation change.
The marathon begins at 304 feet above sea level. The highest point is 322 feet and the lowest is 145 feet.
Course load: Hartley said he expects more than 2,000 total runners to be on the course, similar to the first year numbers.
The finish: After crossing the line at the crosswalk that links Main and Gervais, runners will dump right into the State House, Hartley said. The north lawn is where the post-race festivities will be held. We just cant have alcohol and you cant spend the night, Hartley said.
Pass the baton: The 10K, which began hours after the marathon, has been eliminated and replaced by a 5K, which starts just 10 minutes behind all the other runners. Also new this year is the relay.
There will be teams of four (more than 60 have registered), with two teammates running for five miles and the other two go for eight. The exchange will be made at Brennen Elementary on Devereaux Road. And instead of batons, the runners will exchange belts.
If you go
Columbia SC Marathon
When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown Columbia and surrounding areas
Other races: Columbia SC Marathon Relay, Famously Hot Half-Marathon, Columbia SC 5K and Columbia SC Kids Marathon
Health & Fitness Expo: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday at Columbia Marriott, 1200 Hampton St. Free
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.