Snickers Marathon, Half-Marathon breaks participation records
Mar 09, 2016
By Jim West, Albany Herald
ALBANY — More than 1,500 runners from across the nation and the world “left their marks” to compete in the 10th annual Albany Snickers Marathon and Half Marathon Saturday. Some ran strictly for the fun of it, while others came to qualify for later events, such as the Boston Marathon in April.
At 7 a.m. sharp, following a short welcome by Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, both marathoners and half-marathoners began their pavement-pounding on Front Street behind the Albany Civic Center, then quickly split toward separate routes. Like strings of ants, the runners stretched along their respective 26.2 mile or 13.1 mile routes, the first of the joggers arriving at the finish line behind the historic Bridge House on Front Street shortly after 8 a.m.
Along the routes, a veritable army of volunteers manned water stations to keep the runners hydrated and to keep them safe and steady on the proper course.
“We have certain groups that sponsor our water stations, and they get their own groups of volunteers,” said Rashelle Beasley, executive director of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organizes the event. “You have like Albany State, Darton, Albany Tech, the county government, our major institutions. And then you have a lot of clubs that do it and some churches.”
In addition to giving directions and water, the volunteers provide vital encouragement in the form of cheering, noise making and plenty of “attaboys” (or attagirls).
Lt. Connor Roche came down from Fort Benning, where he’s currently based, to help keep himself in shape by running the half-marathon.
“I’ve been running since I was in 7th grade,” Roche said. “I was on the marathon team at West Point and I miss my team, so I thought I’d go out and do what they do.”
Roche, 23, who had run nine half-marathons, said he particularly enjoyed the mostly flat,d well-marked course in Albany, as well as the support volunteers provided.
“I thank everyone for how they’ve handled that.” Roche said. “I was in a lot better shape when I was on a team, but I’m getting back into it now and I’m excited about that.”
Roche said he’s run the Boston Marathon three times.
Also tackling the half-marathon was 41-year-old Stephen Moss from Dunwoody, who according to his own measurement, completed the route in 1 hour, 24 minutes and four seconds.
“I was in the marathon three years ago and I’m doing Boston in April,” Moss said, “so I’m using this run as a sort of tuneup and trying to stay young. I really love the course. It’s nice and flat and that’s good for getting a good time. I’m not looking for additional challenges, so a flat course is good.”
“I’ve never done a half-marathon before,” said Ann Centner, 24, of Watkinsville. “But I did a 5K here three weeks ago, and at the (Atlanta) Hot Chocolate 15K I got a pretty solid time. I tried my best today, but I feel like I can raise (my time). This was my first ‘half’ and I was just learning how to pace myself.”
Some two and half hours into the event, Beasley and CVB Marketing and Communications Manager Kristen Schuette had stationed themselves outside the Thronateeska Heritage Center on West Roosevelt Avenue, directing runners in for the final leg of their ordeal.
“This is kind of a crucial point right here,” Beasley said, “because we’re 0.3 (miles) away from the finish, and sometimes the full marathoners tend to zone out … they get in a zone and you just have to direct them where they need to go. They need a little extra.”
During a rare lull in the runner traffic, Beasley said how pleased she was with how the Snickers run was going.
“It’s a great turnout and we’re getting some really fast times right now,” Beasley said. “The first through the fourth marathon runners have already come through and it’s just 9:28. We have great weather, fast times and well over 1,500 runners. I just hope it doesn’t get too hot.”
Chris Zablocki, a medical student at the American University of the Caribbean, delivered an incredible finish of just two hours, 18 minutes and 50 seconds for the full marathon, making him the overall event winner.
“I ran the marathon last year and two years ago,” Zablocki said, “and I got a second place. Whenever I run here it turns into a two-man duel, so it’s really exciting for me. I really love the course. The volunteers are great the way they cheer you on, and it’s always good weather. For some reason I always get a really fast sprint in the second half, and that’s a good confidence builder for later marathons.”
Beasley estimates that, on average, with runners coming to Albany, staying in hotels, spending money in stores and eating out in restaurants, the annual economic impact to Albany is roughly $600,000.
For full results of the Albany Snickers Marathon and Half-Marathon, go to www.event-tech.com and select “Results C.”
Herald staff writer Brad McEwen contributed to this story.