MORGANTOWN — Runners are gearing up for the Fourth Annual WVU Medicine Morgantown Marathon and the hilly terrain it promises.
The two-day event is one of six incorporated in Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (GMCVB) Wild and WonderFall weekends.
Everything begins at the WVU Coliseum, which is also where a Health and Wellness Expo will be from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 15. Vendors will be set up for race participants to explore as they pick up their welcome packets. The expo is open to the public and free.
Jamie Summerlin, race director and Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (GMCVB) director of Major Events and Destinations, started the marathon as a way to honor military heroes and showcase the area.
“I got tired of traveling all over, running races and I thought, we have a beautiful city here, we’ve got an opportunity to showcase it to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t come here, and it was born out of that idea,” he said.
Proceeds from the races — a true 26.2-mile marathon, a “thirteener” or half-marathon and the “Mountain Mama” 8K — go to support Operation Welcome Home, a local veteran’s organization.
The races are Sept. 16, with the marathon beginning at 7 a.m., the thirteener at 7:15 and the 8K at 7:30, all from the WVU Coliseum. The shorter races stay in the Krepps Park area, but the full marathon runs through all seven wards of the city and includes legs up 705, in front of the Mountainlair, through South Park and Sabraton, the entirety of Green Bag Road to near the end up Don Knott’s Boulevard up Beechurst Avenue and up the Monongahela Boulevard hill back to the Coliseum — totaling 26.2 miles.
Summerlin said someone has run it in two hours and 32 minutes, which he calls “blazing fast” for the course, but runners have until 1:30 p.m. to complete it.
Registration is open now at morgantownmarathon.com. There will also be walk-up registration Sept. 15 and 16.
Costs to participate in the races is $95 for the marathon, $70 for the thirteener and $40 for the 8K.
Summerlin said this is the only full marathon that takes place in Morgantown. Though there are many 5K races in the area, Summerlin said it’s the only 8K in the area as well.
“Combined, it’s one of the bigger races we have in the area, absolutely. I’ve had all 50 states represented in the race, as well as nine different countries, people coming to run the race here,” he said.
“You get a chance to see some really beautiful areas here in Morgantown, and it’s open to everyone. We have walkers who do the 8K to the elite runners who come in and go for the prize money,” he said.
He said there are people who aim to run marathons in all 50 states, so this offers a new and unique way for those runners to get West Virginia under their belts. It is one of the more challenging courses, he said, and people like that challenge.
“We use the hashtag “yes, it’s hilly” for a reason,” he said.
Summerlin sees a number of reasons why it’s important to have events like this for military heroes.
Vets will be honored with “Hero Mile.” The general public can pay $50 to sponsor one hero and businesses can pay $200 to sponsor up to four heroes. Names will be printed on a poster and placed at each mile marker along the entire course, and that money will benefit Operation Welcome Home.
In addition to encouraging the public to attend the health expo, Summerlin also encourages people to stand along the race routes to cheer on the runners.
For more information, visit morgantownmarathon.com.