Soldier Marathon
In this file photo, David Marley crosses the finish line on the Avenue of Flags at the National Infantry Museum Saturday to take first place overall at the 2011 Soldier Marathon.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 7, 2012) -- Since its inception in 2010, the Soldier Marathon has become one of the premiere running events in the Columbus/Fort Benning area, drawing over 1,300 runners from 38 states in 2011.

Registration for this year's event, which is Saturday at the National Infantry Museum, has already climbed to 1,500 runners from 39 states and three countries as of Wednesday, race director Cecil Cheves said. Registration closed Monday.

"It says that there are a lot of people who appreciate what our military does to protect our freedom," Cheves said. "Most of the runners are civilians."

Alex Barbosa of Brazil, who won the first race in 2010 and finished second last year, will return for a third time. The national and international attention the marathon has gained so quickly can be attributed to the Boston Marathon, Cheves said. The Soldier Marathon is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon.

"It communicates that we are a world-class event," he said. "We are serious about this race. We are trying to reach the serious runner as well as the patriotic runner."

Not much about the race has changed from last year to this year, Cheves said, and not much needed to. In addition to the runners who want to honor service members, the course provides one of the most scenic venues for any organized marathon in America, he said. The course will begin with a seven-mile stretch through Fort Benning, wind its way through the RiverWalk in Columbus, and make its way back to the Infantry Museum.

"Columbus and Fort Benning have a lot to offer," he said. "The Riverwalk is really classic … and is runner friendly. The weather is wonderful this time of year. It's in the autumn and the leaves will be changing.

"I can't think of another race in America that has you starting and finishing in such a great venue as the Avenue of Flags at the National Infantry Museum."

All runners will have an opportunity to honor a fallen service member from any campaign or period of service through the Fallen Hero program. The runner may choose a service member to honor or select from a list of names provided at the race.

There will also be the conclusion of the Kids Soldier Marathon and Half Marathon with a one-mile fun run Friday evening at the Infantry Museum. All participating kids were required to accumulate a total of 25.2 miles or 12.1 miles prior to Friday, and will finish together at the fun run to round out the full distance for the full or half marathon.

The Soldier Marathon will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.soldiermarathon.com.

Page last updated Wed November 7th, 2012 at 00:00