This Sunday, Reston will play host to its first marathon. The event, Runners Marathon of Reston, is being touted as a milestone for the community and a coup for local running enthusiasts.
But the event also is drawing first-time marathoners attracted to the event’s proximity to their homes.
Reston’s Lisa Mackem, who spent the winter training to run her first marathon, is one such resident.
“I hadn’t wanted to do one before,” explained Mackem, 43, who previously competed in triathalons where athletes swim, bike and run. “I signed up for the Reston Runners [club] training program in November. ... In January, I started distance running. I’m not quite sure what to expect. I know the course is quite challenging.”
The appeal of the Reston Marathon is that part of the 26.2-mile course rolls past her property.
“I could roll out of bed and run,” she said.
The Runners Marathon of Reston is being presented by Reston Runners, a club of about 1,000 runners and walkers who share an interest in fitness. The club formed in the 1970s and conducts organized 3-mile to 10-mile runs or walks through Reston on Saturdays and Sundays. Additional group runs are scheduled throughout the week.
“This will be, if it all goes well, our signature event,” Reston Runners President Dennis Hays said of the marathon. “We’ve held races in the past, but this is a big step for us. ... It’s a way to highlight Reston.”
Of the about 700 runners signed up for the marathon Sunday, Hays estimates 10 percent are Reston Runners club members. The event begins at 7:30 a.m. for those running the full marathon and 8 a.m. for those running the 13.1 mile half-marathon. The race starts and ends at South Lakes High School at 11400 South Lakes Drive in Reston. Much of the race will be on Reston Association managed pathways, which wind through the various neighborhoods in Reston. Participant fees ran from $85 to $95 depending on whether runners signed up under the early-bird signup rate.
Money collected by Reston Runners from the marathon will go to cover the costs of the race and also will help fund Reston Runners’ scholarship program, which awards money to two students at both South Lakes and Herndon high schools.
“It’s very expensive to put on races like this,” Hays said. “From food, to T-shirts and socks we give the runners, police for safety ... There are a thousand-plus things that go into this. We have to certify a course. We have to get permission from the Reston Association and the Virginia Department of Transporation and Fairfax County [to use local roads and pathways].”
During the past year of planning for the marathon, Hays estimates Reston Runners leaders met two times each week to coordinate the event.
“There will be a lot of satisfaction when it starts on Sunday,” said Hays, who is sitting out the marathon so that he can manage the event.
Reston Runners has partnered with Reston Association’s Parks and Recreation office to coordinate the race.
“What they are really trying to do is offer something in Reston that’s never been offered before,” the association’s director of parks and recreation, Larry Butler, said. “Reston is a very active community. Just about any race distance you want to do, outside of an ironman [competition], you can now do in Reston. ... And that’s what you’re hearing from residents in terms of excitement [about the marathon].”
Longtime runner and former president of Reston Runners Tim Cohn said the marathon marks a milestone for Reston.
“This is a big deal for Reston,” he said. “Metro areas have two things [in common]. They have a metro rail system and a marathon. Reston is getting both this year.”
Cohn, 56, who coaches a middle-aged mens group of runners for Reston Runners, estimates he has run some 30 to 40 marathons in his life.
“Northern Virginia doesn’t really have its own marathon, and that’s a strange thing,” he said. “We’ve always had to travel to get to one.”
To learn more about Reston Runners visit www.RestonRunners.org.
To learn more about the Reston Marathon, including the route, times and sponsors, visit RunnersMarathon.com.