The Columbia SC Marathon, the first 26.2 mile race in Columbia since the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 2000, was held Saturday.
The Vista streets were lonely and quiet before dawn, save for the race volunteers getting ready to man their posts.
At around 6:30 a.m., the racers began showing up. By 7 a.m., the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center was bustling with chattering runners. About 1,800 runners — marathon, half marathon and 10K — ran on Columbia’s streets for more than six hours.
On Page B2, follow a timeline of what happened, starting an hour and a half before the marathon began and racing throughout the city to the finish line.
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It was cold when I started walking around with a notebook, but I was excited to get on course. I was also glad I wasn’t running.
5:45 a.m.: The cones at the intersection of Blossom and Assembly streets are the first signs of the marathon. Patrol cars are gathered in the Colonial Life Arena parking lot. Volunteers are parking at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. It is 40 degrees; the wind causes your eyes to tear.
5:52 a.m.: Boxes of bananas are unloaded from the back of a pickup truck and stacked on Lincoln Street.
6 a.m.: There are people still picking up their race-day bibs. The volunteers inside the convention center obviously have it better than those outside. Wait, is that a Nickelback song? On second thought...
6:10 a.m.: The first runner with a mohawk. With just more than an hour to go until the race, it seems extremely calm. Not that I would know any different; this is my first marathon.
6:25 a.m.: A square, cardboard garbage bin turns like rolled dice in the wind. I’m glad I put the jacket on this morning.
6:30 a.m.: I notice the bright colors the racers have selected to wear. And all of a sudden, it’s daylight.
7 a.m.: Inside the convention center, the escalator is clogged with people. It feels like a convention, which this is in a way. The utility belts some runners have around their waists are smart and stylish.
7:02 a.m.: Outside, someone bellows to racers through speakers.
7:05 a.m.: Mayor Steve Benjamin, wearing slacks and a blazer, welcomes the runners before making a comment about being overdressed.
7:08 a.m.: Ashlyn Combs, 12, sings a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” She’s the niece of Columbia native Lauren Lucas, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter.
7:11 a.m.: Amy McDonaugh, one of the legally blind runners The State profiled in the week leading up to the race, runs to the start line. There also is a dude ready to run with his shirt off.
7:14 a.m.: Dan Hartley, the race director, smiles as he walks by, seeking a better view of the sea of runners.
7:15 a.m.: The start horn is followed by the blew-woop of the patrol car’s siren that is leading the pack.
7:20 a.m.: Heading down on the convention center escalator on the way to my car, I see a marathoner running up the other side. Maybe he overslept.
7:30 a.m.: I get a text that Forrest Gump is on the course. My day won’t be complete until I find him.
7:53 a.m.: I see WIS-10 anchor Dawndy Mercer Plank, who is running the half marathon on Kilbourne Road on the way to Devine Street.
7:58 a.m.: Another mohawk. Polka-dot arm warmers and Katie Bowman, Allison Cogdill and Alisha Biler carry poster board signs. They have spirit, yes they do.
8 a.m.: A woman runs by wearing a pink tutu. Cute.
8:03 a.m.: I’ve found Forrest Gump. He’s sporting a beard and a Bubba Gump hat. Behind him, a male runner in a kilt.
8:50 a.m.: After driving through neighborhoods to get ahead of the runners, on Trenholm Road riding beside a pack with a photographer in the back seat. She’s taking photos with her lens out the window. Traffic is halted at the intersection of Beltline Boulevard and Trenholm Road.
8:52 a.m.: With a smile, Forrest Gump makes a not-so-nice hand gesture. We share a laugh.
8:55 a.m.: At a Trenholm Road water station, there are people in leprechaun hats. I hope the weather is like this for St. Pat’s in Five Points. Fingers crossed.
9 a.m.: Spotting more walkers than on “The Walking Dead.”
9:10 a.m.: Across the street from the intersection of House and Gervais streets, there’s a bench. On it sit Samuel Stewart, 13, his brother Max, 9 and his grandparents, Sharon and Ed Longin of Chapin. Best seat on the course?
9:30 a.m.: Back at the convention center. To the finish!
9:32 a.m.: Balance Your Yoga has coordinated yoga for the runners. They are stretched on the floor near the center’s entrance.
9:40 a.m.: Half marathoners are coming in, and there’s buzz that the lead marathoners are only about four miles out.
10:06 a.m.: Bryson Smith wins the marathon in 2:51:02.
10:19 a.m.: McDonaugh wins the women’s marathon in 3:04:17.
10:34 a.m.: Some marathoners lapped the half marathoners. Wow.
12:12 p.m.: Inside the convention center again, I see Shawn Chillag with his face and hair painted green.
12:42 p.m.: Two children run alongside a runner to the finish. A volunteer starts picking up cones.
1 p.m.: The timekeepers start packing up the flat screen TVs that had been displaying results. I think the race is over...
1:15 p.m.: ...but people are still coming off the course. Who knows how many?
1:30 p.m.: Volunteers working the finish pose for a picture underneath the scaffold.