Runners walk down Third Street at the start of the half marathon, which was part of the 2017 Duke City Marathon. (Greg Sorber / Journal)
There was a notable void in the Albuquerque running community in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the Duke City Marathon being canceled.
“The running community is so closely connected. Not running a personal race in 2020 has been really tough for everyone, “said Burt Trembly, board member of the Duke City Marathon. “People like to get together and like to run together. We saw that. I think the pandemic somehow showed us that. “
The long-standing – no pun intended – tradition will return in its intended form on Sunday, October 17, with a class that begins and ends at Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque. In addition to the marathon itself, there are six other races to choose from: a marathon relay, a half marathon, a 10km run, a 5km run, a 10km walk and a 5km walk.
Trembly has been involved in the race for almost two decades.
“It’s huge,” he said. “We like to say that there are three important things happening every fall in New Mexico. This is the State Fair, the Balloon Fiesta and right after the Balloon Fiesta comes the Duke City Marathon, the longest running and leading fitness event in the state. In fact, we’re still the only Boston Marathon qualifier in the state. We’ve been around since 1984. Even without being able to host a personal race last year, it’s still stronger than ever. “
According to Trembly, Duke City Marathon officials received a flood of emails and phone calls regarding the event almost daily.
“People are very excited,” he said. “I think there is a lot of energy for a personal race out there as we didn’t make it through this last year.”
The start times are staggered by around 15 minutes, which should help to avoid traffic jams at the start of the races. In addition, volunteers are masked and gloved at the “motivation stations” that provide water, gatorade, medical supplies, and general assistance. Otherwise, Trembly says, the Duke City Marathon will adhere to the state’s current safety guidelines regarding the ongoing pandemic. No vaccination card or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test is required at the event.
“We have seven different races and they all start at different times. It’s not like 4,000 people are lining the start line, ”said Trembly. “So they are pretty scattered. We’ll be making announcements to keep spreading out near the start line because that really is the only time crowds are together. … The people who cross the finish line are rarely in large groups. “
Participants can turn the celebrations into a weekend. On Saturday, October 16, a Health & Fitness Expo will take place in the Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A notable novelty on Sunday is a beer garden that will serve Michelob Ultra from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Marathon participants receive drinks at a reduced price. The race also goes to a good cause, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Central New Mexico. As for registration numbers, Trembly says it is difficult to quantify whether the numbers are going up or down as all entries for 2020 have been carried over to this year.
“The other thing is because there is still a mask mandate in New Mexico and because the coronavirus is obviously still out there, I think you will have some people who might want to do it for another year,” Trembly said. “You have both. You have some people who are really excited to come back and be together again. And then you have some people who are like, ‘You know what, I’ll wait another year.’ ”
Duke City Marathon officials have been overseeing both the State Fair and Balloon Fiesta and are confident that the state can wrap up its fall trifecta on popular events this weekend.
“We feel really good about what we can achieve in terms of a safe and personal race,” said Trembly. “Our basic course is outside and Civic Plaza is outside. Everything is outside on race day. If people are comfortable wearing a mask, that’s great. If you prefer to run without a mask, that’s great too. It’s your choice. “