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Runners of the Athens marathon and half marathon begin to run the race at the corner of Union and College Street, April 14, 2024, in Athens.

Athens Annual Marathon: Runners hit the road

Runners from all over the country gathered together on the corner of South College Street and East Union Street at 8 a.m. to participate in either the 13.1-mile half marathon or the 26-mile marathon. Athens has held this marathon annually since 1968, and each year Athens garners more and more runners. 

“We are representing 31 different states that are going to be running, the furthest one coming from Hawaii,” said race director Condy Richardson. 

He also said the Athens marathon is a Boston qualifying marathon that attracts a vast majority of runners. 

The Athens marathon doesn’t only appeal to runners because it is a Boston qualifying marathon but the terrain and the scenery are also big attractions. 

“It’s a downhill flat course, believe it or not for Athens,” Richardson said. 

As the route of the race is fairly simple, runners could enjoy the wonderful scenery of Athens. 

On Sunday, the runners took to the corner of South College Street and East Union Street to prepare for the race. With runners stretching, warming up and talking, the pre-race energy was surprisingly chill and calm. 

Runner Jill Singer, a Ph.D. student from Ohio State University, traveled from Columbus to participate in the annual race. Singer said the pre-race environment was unique in the fact that it was so calm. 

“Right now it’s pretty chill; I know this is a smaller road marathon compared to some others,” Singer said. “So it’s nice to have that local feeling and not be too overwhelming.” 

Although the races started at 8 a.m., runners were gathering at 7:20 am. While the environment was calm, excitement was coursing through the crowd of runners and supporters. Luke Schmitt a freshman studying journalism and a participant in the half-marathon, said a racing environment is very different than a regular running environment,

“I would say the racing environment is a lot different than the normal environment,” Schmitt said. “I would say adrenaline is a huge factor. I mean as much as I haven’t run a half marathon I’ve run plenty of 5k’s and I can tell you that adrenaline is a huge factor.” 

With excitement and nervousness building up, runners took off at 8 a.m. to complete their respective races. 

While adrenaline fills the pre-race space, positivity fills the race and the runners through it. 

“It’s a very positive environment,” Richardson said. “Everybody’s always cheering. You never have somebody that’s cheering against somebody.” 

Athens’s 57th annual marathon was one for the books, with the wonderful scenery and race weather, the calm yet exciting environment and the positive atmosphere brought by the racers.

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