On Aug. 31, MQT will be hosting the 4th annual Marquette Marathon, Half Marathon, and Marathon Relay, sponsored by Eagle Mines. According to MarquetteMarathon.com, a potentially record number of runners will race, as the registration total was at 631 as of Aug. 27. Registration is open until Friday. Also on Friday night will be packet pick up for the racers and the race expo for families and the community will run from 6-9 p.m. and will feature live music and vendor booths. This will all take place at the Marquette Commons.
On the eve of the Marathon will be the kids fun run and the first year running of the Black Rocks 5k. The kids fun run will consist of two races. The half-mile "Pebble Run" for ages 11 and younger will kick off at 7 p.m. and the Rock Skipper Run 5K for 17 years old and under will begin at 7:30 p.m.. Both races are on out-and-back courses on the paved bike path adjacent to the commons area.
Saturday morning is the big day for many runners hoping to accomplish there goals and push themselves to the finish. Starting at 6:30 a.m. complimentary shuttle buses will start making runs from the NMU campus to the start/finish line at Presque Isle Pavilion. Shuttle buses are free and open to public with priority going to the racers. For racers that are expected to take longer than six hours there will be an early start time of 6:30 a.m.. The full marathon will begin at 7:30 with the relay taking off 15 minutes later and than finally an eight a.m. start for the half-marathon runners.
To our local runners this course means a lot. It gets to showcase MQT, and gives people in this area a local course to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This weekend is also a chance to see MQT native Tracy Lokken in action. Lokken is one of the most accomplished athletes in his sport that MQT has ever seen. Former Masters champion and a multiple time Boston Marathon finisher, Lokken is a very accomplished Marathon runner. Lokken will be taking part in Saturdays half-marathon to help him prepare for the Twin Cities Masters Championship in Oct. This will be his fourth Marquette Marathon.
"Its an ideal location, a very beautiful, (rolling) course that showcases MQT spot on," Lokken said when asked about what makes this course special to him.
Runners will enjoy many miles of a flat, fast surface with a majority of their time next to the great Lake Superior. Half marathoners who are running 13.1 miles will complete one lap while the marathoners running 26.2 miles will run two full laps and enjoy the beauty and variety of the course twice.
While Tracy Lokken will be one of the many veteran runners that are competing this weekend. Many first timers will wake up Saturday morning with dreams of finishing there first marathon or half-marathon as well. Either event can be a very daunting challenge for any new long distance runner. Kayleigh Laitinen an avid runner from Negaunee is running in her first ever half-marathon this weekend, and is excited for the challenge.
"I am very excited for this marathon,and the chance to push my limits, and hopefully next year I'll be able to go for the entire marathon," Laitinen said.
After the days events there will be a post race picnic at 11 a.m. for the racers. The awards celebration will follow at 1 p.m. Both the picnic and awards celebration will be at Presque Isle Park. Registration is still open until Friday night at 9 p.m. at the Race Expo in the MQT commons.
This is Brandon's first story on MQTSocialScene.com. He is returning to collegiate education at NMU and can be reached at email@example.com.