Sep 07, 2023

St. Joseph set to host inagural marathon on September 23

Posted Sep 07, 2023 1:00 PM
St. Joseph marathon medals which will go to every participant of the event. Photo by Tommy Rezac.
St. Joseph marathon medals which will go to every participant of the event. Photo by Tommy Rezac.


St. Joseph Post

The first ever St. Joseph marathon is coming up on September 23rd, and city officials are working hard to make sure the city is ready to host the event.

The event features five different distances for participants to choose from, including a full marathon, half marathon, 10K race, 5K race and a five-person relay team element that encompasses the full route.

The full and half-marathon and relay event start at 7 a.m., with the 5 and 10K portions starting at 7:45. The races are expected to be finished by about 2 p.m.

Director of the St. Joseph Sports Commission Brett Esely says roughly 400 runners have registered to date, with people signing up from 25 different states thus far.

"You have marathoners from all over the country who are bucket list people who say, 'I'm going to run a marathon in all 50 states,'" Esely said. "I don't exactly know what that looks like in the demographic of this race, but when you have people signed up from New Hampshire, Washington, Utah, Wisconsin just to name a few.

"I don't know if those folks haven't run marathons before, but I don't know if they have run marathons before."

So far, there are 89 full marathon runners, 112 running the half and 20 relay teams.

The route will begin and end behind Civic Center Park in downtown St. Joseph, and will take participants from north to south. It includes numerous landmarks like Krug Park, Hyde Park, Lovers Lane, Ashland Avenue, Pony Express Museum and the Museum Hill Area, all incorporating the 12 miles of the city’s historic parkway system.

Esely encourages participation, whether that means running or helping out.

"We'd love for you to run, no matter what segment of the race that is," Esely said. "If you don't want to run, then darn it, volunteer. There's a number of ways to do that. When it's all said and done, we're probably going to be in the 300-400 count when it comes to volunteers."

Beyond volunteers, Esely says many other city and county entities are helping to manage an event of this scale.

"We have multiple medical entities working on the event," he said. "Law enforcement staff, public works, traffic. Just think about everything that goes into controlling a 26.2 mile race route."

In preparation for the race, the St. Joseph Sports Commission mailed 1,043 postcards to homes and business all along the route that stretches 13 miles north to south across town. The route encompasses 17 cross streets as well.

"Obviously with a first time event on this particular stretch of road in St. Joseph, we wanted those folks to know that, 'Hey, there's an event taking place on the 23rd of September and this is how it could affect you."

The economic impact of this event is estimated at $172,000.

Registration for the race opened back on January 30th and will stay open until September 22nd.

Packet pick-up for participants will be at the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2-7 p.m. on the 22nd. Participants can also get their packets at Civic Center Park on the morning of the race from 6-6:45 a.m.

People can register online at Full marathon participants will have the opportunity to achieve a Boston Marathon qualifying time.

The day will conclude with the Post Race Chillout presented by HyVee, featuring live music, food, drink and assorted vendors at Civic Center Park.

It's a massive event that covers a lot of ground - literally and figuratively. Planning started back in May of 2022. With just over two weeks to go before the starting gun fires, Esely looks forward to seeing how it plays out.

"We feel like we have elements of a great event here in St. Joe," he said. "Again, we only get one chance to do this the first time. Will this be our biggest event? It won't be. But, we had to start somewhere and we're very fortunate. We've had great collaboration."

Map and timing grid

St. Joseph Marathon Timing Chart.png
St. Joseph Marathon Timing Chart.png
Race director Brett Esely addresses the media about the St. Joseph Marathon at the CVB Building. Photo by Tommy Rezac.
Race director Brett Esely addresses the media about the St. Joseph Marathon at the CVB Building. Photo by Tommy Rezac.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.