While this year’s event will be the final Soldier Marathon in Columbus, race director Cecil Cheves said that there are plans to continue with the Soldier Half Marathon and Soldier 5K.
Since its beginning in 2010, the event has donated more $150,000 to its beneficiaries and thousands more will come this year.
The main beneficiaries are the House of Heroes and National Infantry Museum, but funds also go to Fort Benning Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Team Red White & Blue, a veterans running group.
The event has been planned each year by volunteers.
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Cheeves said the reason for discontinuing the marathon was because planning the full marathon course and the other races was becoming too much of a challenge for the volunteer committee. The new course for the half marathon and 5K will be easier to manage.
“We are all runners and love running and it has been a joy for us to plan this race but there comes a point in time when it is best to bring something to a close while it is still special,” Cheves said.
And he believes this year’s event, at which he expects more than 2,000 participants, will be special since it is the 100th birthday of Fort Benning.
“It will be very meaningful,” he said.
Cheves said the National Infantry Museum has just unveiled its new Global War on Terrorism Memorial, which faces the existing Vietnam Wall Memorial.
“The Soldier Half Marathon and Soldier 5K Race will be memorial races to commemorate those soldiers who have paid the ultimate price to protect our nation’s freedoms as well as to give their families and runners the opportunity to celebrate those lives that were so well lived,” he said.
He said putting on the annual event has been “fulfilling” and he is looking forward to a big day with many people having already registered.
“We have people from 35 states,” he said.
He said anyone interested may register anytime before the run. Registration can be done online at http://www.soldiermarathon.com/.
The public is invited to cheer for the runners.
There is plenty of variety on Saturday. There is the Soldier Marathon, Soldier Half Marathon, Soldier Relay Marathon and Soldier 5K with the running beginning at 8 a.m.
The runs begin and end at the National Infantry Museum.
The full marathon course covers 26.2 miles. The start line and finish line are on the Avenue of Flags along the east side of the building. The first 7.5 miles are on Fort Benning. Much of the rest on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk and Phenix City Riverwalk.
The marathon course is certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier.
The half marathon is a 13.1-mile course.
The relay marathon course is the same as the marathon. Each team must consist of no less than two runners and no more than four. There are three exchange points.
The 5K race starts right after the start of the marathon and half marathon. The 5K course is 3.1 miles.
If you go
What: Soldier Marathon, Soldier Half Marathon, Soldier Relay marathon and Soldier 5K
When: Saturday at 8 a.m.
Where: National Infantry Museum, 1775 Legacy Way
Cost: For civilians the cost is $130 for marathon, $110 for the half marathon, $295 for the relay and $35 for the 5K. For military, the marathon is $100, for the half marathon $90, for the relay $240 and for the 5K $30.
Information: Visit http://www.soldiermarathon.com/.