In its third year, the Gulf Coast Marathon kicks off this weekend with races on Saturday and Sunday.
From its inception three years ago, the Gulf Coast Marathon has continued to grow. This year is expected to be one of the biggest yet with over 3,500 runners. This year will also feature special guest Des Linden, the winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon. She was the first U.S. woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985. Gulf Coast Marathon Founder Patrick Fellows said, “She is going to be hanging out and meeting people, and every year we just kind of up the ante and figure what we want to do better.”
Along with more runners, there are more events this year, including Harrah’s Gulf Coast beer mile on Saturday at 3 p.m. “We have 13 teams and about 50 individuals, so it’ll be a couple hundred people where they have to drink a beer for every quarter mile and see who can man the fastest time, so it’s going to be fun,” said Fellows.
Saturday will also feature the 5K. It starts at 8 a.m. from Point Cadet Plaza. On Sunday, the full marathon kicks off from Henderson Point in Pass Christian at 7 a.m. The half-marathon also begins Sunday at 7 a.m. from Jones Park in Gulfport. “In mid-January we meet and we start planning for the next year, so we aren’t really taking a breath before planning the next year’s events. Seeing what we did right, see what we want to improve upon and see what we want to do different.”
You might remember last year’s mishap, runners were shorted about three-tenths of a mile. Now, officials this year want to reassure everyone that distances and marks have been double-checked multiple times and this year’s marathon will be that of a marathon: the full 26.2 miles. “Mistakes happen, but this year we can guarantee it won’t be short at all,” said Fellows.
With the chance of heavy rain this weekend, nothing will stop runners from crossing the finish line.