Montgomery half marathon makes last minute course change

Montgomery half marathon makes last minute course change
The 11th running of the Montgomery Half Marathon and 5K is set for Saturday and will feature a new set of turns along the course.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The 11th running of the Montgomery Half Marathon and 5K is set for Saturday and will feature a new set of turns along the course.

According to organizers of the event, Huntingdon College asked to have the course moved away from their campus to keep students and faculty safe.

“Due to this change, we have altered the half marathon course to accommodate their request,” organizers said in an email to participants. “Although this is a last-minute change, we still expect the race to be a blast for all, so come out ready to run and have a good time!”

The last-minute change, though, does mean the course is no longer a USTA certified 13.1-mile route. Find more information about the races and courses at www.themontgomeryhalf.com.

Last year, the Montgomery Half Marathon and 5k were canceled the day before the races as concerns over coronavirus ramped up, and Alabama’s first case of the illness was confirmed. This year, there are several safety protocols to make sure participants can run the race safely.

There will be no expo at the scheduled “packet pickup.”

“Participants can show up and pick up their bag, as well as a friend’s, which will include a bib, shirt, and swag. There will be no bib check. We ask everyone to wear a mask and social distance,” said Race Director Hardy Sellers. “Everyone will receive a custom gaiter in their swag. They will be asked to wear this (or another mask) pre-race, at the start line, and post-race.”

The start of the race will also look and feel very different than races in the past.

“We will have a rolling start. You can start your race (Half and 5K) at your leisure anytime between 7-8 am on the 13th. We are using a chip start and a chip finish system,” Sellers explained.

Runners will also need to be more independent along the course, as there won’t be as many volunteers directing them.

“Normally, we rely very heavily on the Air Force base for ‘on the course’ support. Unfortunately, that is not available to us this year. We will cone the course and have police at major intersections; however, be prepared to not have the volunteer presence at intersections and water stops as we have in the past,” said Sellers,

Sellers said the water stops would look different as well.

“All water stops will consist of small, sealed water bottles on a table,” according to Sellers. “Volunteers will keep the tables stocked and will collect the trash. It is our suggestion that everyone brings their own hydration if you don’t want to take the extra time and effort of picking up a bottle, opening, etc.”

There will also be no party at the finish line.

“After the race, participants will receive their finishers medal, a water bottle, and a snack bag. If you want to stick around, we ask you to spread out,” Sellers said. “Award winners will be announced via social media, and the award medals will be mailed.”

The Montgomery Half Marathon and 5K are also offering a virtual option this year.

“For those who are unable or uncomfortable to attend the live event, you may run a virtual race and turn in GPS proof of time and distance, along with your bib number, no later than midnight on Saturday. If you would like your swag bag mailed to you, shipping will be $15.” Sellers added.

Organizers also capped registration at 1,000 participants to allow for social distancing at the start, finish, and along the course. The Half marathon is full, but there are still some slots open in the 5K race.

Participants can pick up their swag bags, with their racing bibs inside, at Riverwalk Stadium Friday, from noon until 6 p.m. or Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Last-minute registrations for the 5K will be available at packet pickup Friday.

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