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Biggest race of the year, Veterans Marathon is just days away


(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) Veterans Marathon race director Gary Bird, above, has been a fixture in downtown Columbia City the past several weeks, reviewing his course, making plans with local businesses and coordinating volunteers. Below, the route the marathon runners will run this year.

By Kelley Lefever

Columbia City area businesses and residents are busy gearing up for the 3rd Annual Veterans Marathon scheduled for this Saturday, November 12 at 8 a.m. in downtown Columbia City.
In the third year and growing, the Veterans Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K race, that begins and ends at the courthouse square, is bring excitement to downtown Columbia City and rural Whitley County.
“We are expecting more than 800 runners this year with even more registered to run the full marathon course than in 2010," said race director Gary Bird. “We are finally gaining momentum and community support as our event grows larger every year” continued Bird.
Runners from over 20 states and as far away as California are signed up to participate including many veterans and currently enlisted service individuals. One special race participant will attempt to tackle the entire course in full combat gear while many runners will carry the American flag during their run.
The Veterans Marathon and Half Marathon course has proven to be fast and smooth with a similar climb in elevation to the New York City Marathon. Registered as a Boston Marathon qualifier, many runners will attempt to secure a sacred spot in the legendary race this Saturday.
In past years the Veterans Marathon has been one of the highest qualifying marathon races in the United States with approximately 21% of the runners achieving their qualifying time in Columbia City.
More than 300 volunteers from 35 nonprofit organizations and businesses have committed to volunteering throughout the weekend. The race committee would like to encourage the community to come downtown to the courthouse and cheer on the runners as they attempt to achieve their personal goals. Local entertainment will be provided and many downtown businesses will be open throughout the day.
The 2011 special services honoree will be the Marine Corps. Members of the American Legion Color Guard will be on hand Saturday morning for a special dedication and opening ceremony with performances from the Columbia City High School marching band.
The Whitko High School marching band will performing on Towerview Drive as the runners head out of town. 
Residents along the course are encouraged to become familiar with the route and be aware of restricted road access during race hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
For the safety of the runners, residents are urged to please remove  trash receptacles from the street and secure any pets.


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