AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than a year after it was last run, the Ascension Seton Austin Half Marathon and KXAN Simple Health 5K will return this weekend under much different circumstances.
In order to protect against for the ongoing pandemic, participation is being reduced by 53%. Roughly 6,500 runners will hit the pavement in the half marathon, with another 500 signed up for the 5K.
Communications manager William Dyson said runners will no longer be packed together like in previous races. Density will be reduced by 88%.
“At the start line and throughout the entirety of the course, just to provide some extra space for everyone out there,” he said.
The event is also dropping the traditional runners expo, and finish line festival — cancelling the beer garden and post-race live music runners have come to expect over the years.
“We’ve worked a lot with Austin Public Health and the City of Austin to create the mitigation plan that we’re all working to follow,” Dyson said. “There’s really no worry there as long as we’re doing our part and making sure we’re doing what we can do. Providing the information and communication needed to get those details, and those procedures, and those protocols out there.”
While there will be plenty of changes, some staples remain.
A dozen bands will line the course, providing live music and encouragement to runners. Runners will still get post-race goodie bags when they cross the finish line, and the fundraising arm of the race is still working to help the community.
So far Austin Marathon Gives presented by the Moody Foundation has raised more than $520,000 for 26 central Texas nonprofits.
“It’s Austin’s return to running, and people are excited to get back out there on the streets of Austin and take what they’ve been doing, all their training for the last 12 months, and actually put that toward crossing the finish line,” Dyson said.