Hyannis will be hit with a fever this weekend--marathon fever. On Sunday, February 28, more than 4,000 runners, many of them Cape Codders, will run one of three races through downtown Hyannis. In 1978, the first Hyannis Marathon was held with far fewer runners. Back then, the marathon was the last official qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
Through the years, additional races have been added to the event including a half marathon, a 10K and a marathon team relay. The marathon and the half marathon are both run on USA Track & Field (USATF) certified courses and the marathon is still a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Held in Hyannis in the middle of winter (weather canceled last year's event), the Sunday races and weekend activities leading up to the races are an invigorating and welcomed wake-up for sleepy Cape Cod. According to Paul Collyer of BA Events, the race organizer, 2016 is shaping up to be a good, solid event with more than 4,000 runners participating. Five years ago, according to Collyer, approximately 5,200 people laced up their shoes and braved the winter winds for a chance at a personal best.
Runners hail from on and off Cape. The weekend event is a welcomed jolt for the local winter economy. "A lot of people come to the event and stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants," said Collyer. A nice boost for Hyannis and surrounding towns which rely heavily on summer activity.
The Hyannis Marathon has always drawn heavy-hitters in the running world as special guests including Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. A four-time winner of both the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon, Rodgers will be attending this year's event. Rodgers, who hails from Connecticut, is a favorite of Collyer.
In addition to Rodgers, Jacqueline Hansen will be a special guest this year. Hansen won the Boston Marathon in 1973.
According to Collyer who has organized the race for the past eight years, it wasn't always the case, but more women now run in the races then men--about 60/40. In light of the shift, Collyer has tried to attract more prominent women in running including Hansen, Joan Benoit and Patti Dillon.
The races attract men and women of all ages from teens to runners in their octogenarians. "There are always several runners in their 70s," Collyer said. Cash prizes are awarded to the best overall first, second and third place male and female runners in the marathon and half marathon.
Online registration was open until 8 p.m. Thursday evening with a handful of bibs remaining for the marathon, 10K and the relay. A little over 300 bibs were still available for the half marathon. Bibs available following the close of online registration will be made available on Saturday and Sunday.
Running enthusiasts and spectators are encouraged to head to Hyannis to cheer on the runners. Last year, the races were canceled due to inclement weather. This year, the forecast is for temperatures in the mid 40s and sunny--music to a runner's (and spectator's) ears.
A full schedule is planned beginning Friday evening with the Hanlon Shoe 5K Fun Run with Jacqueline Hansen and Bill Rodgers at 7 p.m. The weekend also includes an exposition at the Resort and Conference Center (the start and finish for all races), package pickup and prerequisite pasta dinner with special guests. The marathon, half marathon, team relay and 10K all begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Resort and Conference Center on Scudder Ave (start and finish). The picturesque course, which brings runners along the water, is described as flat and gentle.
The Hyannis Marathon gives back to the community by supporting several local non-profits and high school athletic clubs. The event also requires the support of many volunteers, including local high school track athletes.