Whether you measure this race by statistics, smiles at the finish line or how long folks stuck around for the after-party, the Garmin Marathon In the Land of Oz was a success from start to finish. As Jake from Garmin, our race-day announcer, so aptly put it, “it felt like a big, small-town race.” A small-town race big enough to bring the Mayor Running, Runner’s World’s Bart Yasso, who, incidentally, has already marked next year’s race on his calendar. A small-town race friendly enough to bring out he Dorothys and she Dorothys, spirited spectators and themed aid stations manned by Garmin volunteers.
A small-town race competitive enough to welcome a team of collegiate runners gunning for their Boston qualifying times and a local runner, Kevin Miller, who smashed the Kansas master’s half marathon record. A small-town race charitable enough to draw Barefoot Rick, who not only celebrated a milestone on the yellow brick road (his 20,000th barefoot mile), but also raised money for a charitable cause along the way — Samaritan’s Feet.
Stats: The race drew a total of 2,500 participants for the full marathon, half marathon, 5k and kids’ race. Among those were several marathon maniacs and 50 staters. In post-race tweets, some of those who’d crossed Kansas off their 50-state list reported they had so much fun, they planned to be back next year. The Garmin Marathon had runners from 44 states, 7 runners from Canada (who apparently can’t get enough of the Oz theme) and 1 from Sweden.
Smiles: We’re not sure if was the fast and flat course, the spot-on pace teams leading many runners to PRs or the themed aid stations and support along the route, but there seemed to be lots of excessive celebrations at the finish line. Jake was doing his fair share of announcer commentary/stand-up on the mic to put smiles on faces as they crossed — adding personal comments for the many runners he knew from work-day lunch runs. He got the crowd built up to cheer in the legendary Bart Yasso, who has run epic races on every continent.
After-party: The City of Olathe knows how to throw a party, and by many accounts, the race participants appreciated the details, from the unique finisher’s medals and shirts to the yellow brick road awaiting them at the finish to the post-race food and beverages. At the Garmin tent, product experts were on-hand to show spectators and runners that we also make products to help you fly, drive, hunt, hike, fish, bike and golf. We also had some fun handing out noisy Team Garmin-themed thunder stix for the young spectators who’d already knocked out their miler and were ready to cheer in more runners.
We could go on, but we’ll let one of our favorite race recaps, from Active Joe, tell more: “Clicked my heels three times and found a marathon PR.” Plans are already in the works to make the 2013 race even bigger and better, so mark your calendar: April 20, 2013, and we’ll see you back here at Garmin headquarters in Olathe, Kansas.