Springfield drivers, here’s your heads-up. Many of the streets around the Queen City will be filled with runners, joggers and walkers Sunday morning.
The 16th annual Bass Pro Marathon, Cohick Half Marathon and the CMC Recycling 5K races will begin early Sunday morning at Bass Pro Shops in central Springfield.
The marathon will officially close at 1:30 p.m., but the finish line festivities on the north side of Wonders of Wildlife continue until the last of the runners and walkers finish their race.
Melissa Bondy, Bass Pro’s program director of Community and Corporate Wellbeing, said there are more than 2,800 participants — representing 31 states — registered as of Wednesday morning.
The race routes are not completely closed to traffic, but intersections will be controlled by Springfield police officers.
Be on the lookout for runners Sunday
The race starts at 7 a.m.
Bondy encourages drivers to be aware of the race routes, look for the signage and white fish painted on the roadways, which indicate which way the runners travel.
There’s still a big need for volunteers to be out on the race routes on Sunday, helping make sure runners are safe and moving in the right direction, Bondy said. (Sign up to volunteer here.)
And it’s also great to have spectators out on the routes, cheering for the runners, especially those who are completing the full 26.2-mile marathon, Bondy said. (Find spectator tips here.)
“We want to try to get more people out there to support,” she said, “because when you are running that far, it’s just emotionally exhausting more than physically in a lot of ways.”
The different neighborhood associations from all over Springfield — not just those along the race routes — will be participating in the annual neighborhood challenge. They pick a theme and dress in costumes, play music, dance and cheer for the runners. They also have aid stations for the runners.
Then after the race, runners will get an email survey to vote for their favorite neighborhood associations’ aid stations. The winners can earn anywhere from $250 to $1,200.
“That is one of our ways of connecting with and supporting the community,” Bondy said. “We have a lot of neighborhoods in Springfield that are active and trying to provide great resources for the people that live in them. The goal of the neighborhood challenge is to provide some financial support back to those neighborhoods.”
Find a fun spectator zone
There are a couple of new fun spectator zones planned for Sunday’s races, Bondy said. One is the “coffee and cowbells” spectator zone located on the downtown square. Classic Rock Coffee is providing the coffee.
And on Battlefield Mall’s north parking lot, the luau-themed spectator zone, Bondy said, will also have a food truck.
The race routes are the same as last year’s, Bondy said. The half and full marathons will go through downtown and the Phelps Groves and University Heights neighborhoods. The full marathon will also go through Southern Hills and Brentwood neighborhoods. (Find a map here.)
“We really love these routes. They showcase a lot of Springfield,” Bondy said. “They take people through areas of the community that we want to highlight.”
Fun facts about those registered
- The youngest person registered for a race is 5; the oldest is 91
- 60 percent of participants are female
- 134 of those registered for the marathon are first-timers
- 200 of those registered for the half marathon are first-timers
- 127 of those registered for the 5K are first-timers
- 52 of the marathon runners are attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon
- 178 Girls on the Run program participants are doing the 5K
- Marathon Weekend participants bring more than 400 hotel night stays to Springfield, not including AirB&B stays, according to information provided by Bondy.
- More than 300 people are volunteering to make the races possible
What runners need to know
Online registration for the races ends Thursday, but you can register in person at the Expo 2-6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday John A. and Genny Morris Conservation Center, 600 W. Sunshine St.
About 50 vendors will have booths at the Expo, which is where runners will pick up their packet with bib and shirt.
On Sunday, there are parking spaces on the Bass Pro store property as well as all around the area.
All races will start in front of the Bass Pro store. The courses are marked with white fish painted on the roadways, noting every turn.
After the marathon officially closes at 1:30 p.m. participants still on the course should move to the sidewalk in busy areas. Police and volunteers will be leaving the course, but the aid stations will remain set up for self-serve.
Walkers must obey all street rules and traffic signals as they complete their event. And unlike a lot of big-city marathons, every participant will receive finish line amenities no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line.
Visit fitness.basspro.com for all the details.