While most of the city sleeps, about 250 runners will pound the pavement Sunday morning for 26.2 miles through nine of Columbia's 10 villages in a marathon celebrating Columbia's 26th birthday.
The Columbia Birthday Marathon, a one-time event organized by the Howard County Striders, will start at 7 a.m. on Little Patuxent Parkway in Town Center across from The Mall in Columbia. Another 250 runners are expected to participate in the marathon relay in three-person teams.
Race director Paul Goldenberg said the race will raise up to $15,000 for the Columbia Foundation, an organization formed by the Rouse Co. that gives grants to nonprofit human services, cultural, arts, educational and community agencies in Columbia and Howard County.
After the first mile on Little Patuxent Parkway, the runners will head down Broken Land Parkway to Snowden River Parkway. They'll make a series of right turns on Oakland Mills Road, Guilford Road and Shaker Drive, then cross a bridge over Route 29 at about the 10-mile mark.
They'll wind down Martin and Freetown roads and reach the halfway point on Watch Chain Way in Hickory Ridge village. Then the runners will zigzag through Harper's Choice village and enter the paths after mile 16, where they will pass the boathouse at Wilde Lake.
They'll pass through Dorsey's Search village on Columbia Road, then follow Route 108 to Long Reach village, where they'll run primarily on the paths. The finish is on the plaza by the lakefront in Town Center.
"It's challenging. It's a hilly course," said Mr. Goldenberg, joking that race organizers "found most of the hills" in Columbia. "Runners will get a real good sense of what Columbia looks like."
The idea for the marathon was hatched on one of the Striders' regular Saturday morning "Bagel Runs" by Mr. Goldenberg and a few running buddies. The Striders used to sponsor a race coinciding with the Columbia City Fair in which the number of miles matches the number of Columbia birthdays, but the
organization stopped those races at 13.
The Striders sold sponsorships for water stops to raise money for the Columbia Foundation.
The businesses and organizations participating include: the Striders; Feet First Sports Inc. and the Junior Striders; CSX Transportation; Allied Signal Aerospace Co.; Energetics Inc.; Columbia Builders Inc.; Merrill Lynch; Anchor Title Co.; Citizens Bank of Maryland; Princeton Sports; and Howard County Public Schools employees.
No roads will be completely closed to motorists along the course except for Little Patuxent Parkway at the start, though some lanes will be blocked off by cones.
Race day registration will take place from 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. at the American City Building. The fee will be $35 for individuals and $60 for teams.