Carmel to host Carmel Marathon on April 3

Carmel to host Carmel Marathon on April 3

Ally Horwitz

Todd Oliver, Race Director and president

What are the COVID-19 safety precautions this year?

Well, we have a long list of things that we’re doing that mirror what it is that everybody else is doing, whether you’re in a restaurant industry or a basketball game, following the CDC guidelines. Runners and spectators will (be asked) to wear a mask if they can’t social distance more than six feet, which is the CDC requirement outside. So even if they can be socially distanced, we’re still asking (runners) to wear a mask once they cross the start line. You don’t have to wear a mask (during the race), which also follows CDC guidelines of physical activity. The volunteers that we use, as opposed to hand-to-hand interaction with our participants, will put all food items on a table. And then the runners will have to walk up to the table and pick them up themselves. As opposed to the handshakes, you (will) bump fists or elbows. That will keep social volunteers and the runners socially distanced throughout the day. Signage will be placed and (runners will) be reminded to wash hands and use the sanitizer, (and the signs will) be placed throughout the grounds. We moved our expo from being indoors at Carmel High School to outdoors, so that there’s more space and outdoor air.

Is it too late to register for the marathon? Is there late registration?

Nope. We do have two of our events that are sold out already. One of the race distances—the 5K, which is the most popular for Carmel residents—is still open for registration.

Who is usually involved in the race? How does the registration process work?

We have runners from all over the country. We have a really cool story this year. So with the Olympics coming up, each country goes through an Olympic Qualifying trials format. The top three people in that race are the ones that make the Olympic team, so for the U.S., the Olympic trials were in Atlanta last February and the men and women who were invited to the trials ran the race and then the top three women and men make the Olympic team for the marathon. The Chinese Olympic trials for men were last week, but the women’s are next month. We have a woman that’s from Chicago that has dual citizenship in the U.S. and China. She’s currently ranked 19th in China, but she can’t get back to China and quarantine long enough to run trials. So she’s coming to Carmel to run her Olympic Trials time to see if she can make the Chinese Olympic team. So she’s bringing her own pacer right now, and her time that she’s expected to hit is going to be almost 10 minutes below our course record, so we could have one of the fastest female runners we’ve ever had. This year she will be trying to make the Chinese Olympic team. We’ve got a lot of media that’s all of a sudden picked up on that.

What does the route look like this year?

(All of the distances) use the same finish line. So if you and I decide to run together and you’re running the marathon and I’m running the 5K, we’re going to go to the same starting line and we’ll take off roughly about the same time. When I finish I just have to sit and wait for you. So, it’s a kind of unique layout, and it’s taken a lot of work with what we offer here, and then we have a new thing that we weren’t going to put in place in 2020 because we couldn’t do (the marathon). The Midtown Plaza is now our first and largest official cheer zone. All four races will go past Midtown Plaza. The city of Carmel is taking one of the cameras by the palladium and turning it to point towards the runners as they finish. That camera will be streamed live in Midtown Plaza on the big screen. So, if you’re a fan or friends and family you can stand at Midtown Plaza, watch all 3,000 runners come by, and at the same time, watch on the big screen as they finish. We’re super excited about it because we’re only about 10 or so marathons in the country that offer that. 

How do you feel about the decision to continue with the race this year?

We’re super excited about the fact that the event’s coming back. It’s a big economic impact for the city of Carmel and, as everybody knows, things have been shut down for a year. So the spectators and the folks coming in to run will be visiting the restaurants and grocery stores and hotels. So that’s great news. It’s (also) very rewarding for the volunteers and sponsors. The fact that last year we couldn’t bring that to fruition made a lot of people feel empty and then, of course, the runners trained and trained last year and there was no event. So, a lot of people felt empty with all of their training, and so now, with the training that they’ve been doing for the last 12 weeks, they will actually feel that excitement and that feeling of going across the finish line.

Katie Kelly, cross country coach and social studies teacher

 What are your experiences with running and/or cross country?

Well I picked up running when I was in college, and I started running because it was the cheapest and fastest way to get a workout in, and I had no idea I would fall in love with it. And then in 2009, I finished the mini I had intended to walk and I ended up running it and I fell in love with distance running. And so from there, I started training with an adult group that helps people train for endurance events and raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. And so I worked with that group and I trained for my first marathon, which was the Disney marathon in 2010. I started training with them, and I became an assistant coach at CHS. I just finished my ninth season of assistant coaching, and in the process I have continued running marathons and half marathons and really gotten into triathlons as well.

Would you suggest that people participate in marathons like the one in Carmel?

I definitely would. I feel like marathon running has a lot of benefits for people in that it’s great for your health, but also for me, I love it because it’s an opportunity to listen to music or podcasts, or just listen to my thoughts for a number of minutes or hours and it’s a great opportunity to bond with friends, if you like to run with your friends. And so yes, I 100% advise anybody to get into running.

The Carmel Marathon, after it was cancelled last year, is up and running again on April 3rd. Do you think it was a good choice to host the event this year?

I did several races through the summer and in the fall, where a lot of organizations within Central Indiana started to figure out how to put on races. And I think that it makes sense if you can do it safely and keep people separated from one another, because once you get out on the race course, people are really not very close to one another. I did a half marathon in September in downtown Indianapolis and the women’s half marathon and there was no one around you (during the race). You didn’t start in a big corral, and it was a running clock to start. I never felt crowded or unsafe. So I think as long as they can provide opportunities for people to socially distance, and make sure that people are aware of their policies, then I think it can really work well.

Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you would like readers to know?

I would say that if someone is afraid of or if they’re worried about running a half marathon, that starting with a local 5K and finding some friends to go out and do a 5K with is a great place to start, and they can build up their endurance to hopefully do one of those longer distance races (in the future).