The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 31, 2011

Mankato Marathon entries up

By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Registrations for the second Mankato Marathon are up 30 percent over last year, and the organization is ramping up efforts to make the second run as successful as the first.

Anna Thill of the Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau said last year’s marathon had roughly 2,200 people had this year they’re shooting for 5,000.

“We’re very excited about this,” Thill said of the registration pace. “Last year’s marathon was something the entire community got behind. A lot of people couldn’t believe we could have such a high-caliber event.”

Which, of course, means the pressure is on for the sophomore effort.

“When you come off such a successful event,” Thill said, “you feel like you have to go above and beyond.”

To that end, Thill says they’re planning some significant additions.

First, something called a “sports psych team” will be introduced. It consists of a group of sports psychology professionals on bikes riding around to give verbal encouragement to runners.

Thill says this year’s race will introduce “cheer zones.” There are places on the course that won’t attract many spectators. Casual spectators typically congregate at the finish line.

To aid runners, pre-assembled groups of cheering fans will be placed strategically around the course to aid runners.

“And it’s going to be a competition,” Thill said. “Runners can choose their favorite cheer team, and the winning team will get a free pizza party at Jake’s.”

Momentum is clearly growing, Thill said, among the running community.  She said there are more runners than ever, which makes planning the marathon an invigorating experience.

This year’s theme is “running strong,” which is a nod to the fact that a lot of people in recent years have made the biggest leap any runner can make: from the couch to the trail.