The similarities are amazing between this Saturday’s Veterans Marathon in Columbia City and the annual New York City Marathon: Both are held in early November, they have nearly identical elevation change charts, and both have a high Boston Marathon Qualifier success rate.
OK, we’ll simply overlook the differences such as entry fee ($70 for Veterans and $250 for New York), the field size (400 for Veterans and 40,000 for New York) and, the clincher: Veterans is still on and, well, the New York City Marathon was supposed to be this past Sunday.
Because of Hurricane Sandy, the similarities between the two marathons has resulted in a dramatic increase in entries for the fourth annual Veterans Marathon.
“We’ve had about 60 calls and emails (Saturday and Sunday),” said Gary Bird, Veterans Marathon founder and race director. “About 40 of them signed up.”
Bird, of Columbia City, said much of the interest is from midwestern runners who were registered for New York City.
“They spent all summer and fall getting ready,” Bird said. “So they are trained up. They don’t want to let all that training go to waste so they need to run somewhere.”
Bird said Veterans offers an inexpensive and convenient option and a course that is ironically very similar to New York City. According to Bird, total elevation change on the 26.2-mile Veterans Marathon course is 1,532 feet. Total climb (uphill) is 765 feet. For New York City, with all it’s bridge-crossings, total elevation change is 1,563 with a climb of 764.
“People think our marathon is hilly,” Bird said. “I guess compared to Chicago it is. But if you were training for New York City, it’s the same.”
Registration continues on-line at www.runrace.net and for more information, visit www.veteransmarathon.com. Entry through Thursday at 9:59 p.m. is only $70 and increases to $90 through Friday at 9 p.m. at the packet pick on the courthouse lawn in downtown Columbia City. There is also a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and a 5K. Both the marathon and half-marathon begin at 8 a.m. Saturday; the 5K begins at 8:15 a.m. All races begin and finish in downtown Columbia City.
Don’t let the small-town entry fee fool you: like most big city marathons, there are plenty of the usual perks ranging from chip timing, finisher’s medals, plentiful aid stations, post-race music and food. But instead of a simple race t-shirt, Veterans goes the extra mile by providing custom embroidered high-tech jackets for all half-marathon and marathon finishers.
But back to the timeliness of the event: Veterans Marathon is going to donate $5 to the Red Cross Relief Fund for every entry of a New York City Marathon entrant who signs up for Veterans.
“I know it doesn’t seem like much, but we want to help out all we can,” Bird said. “We already have a lot of runners we normally wouldn’t have.”