Centre County runners have an array of races from which to choose each year.
There are a ton of springtime 5-kilometer races, summer 10Ks, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts rekindled its 10-miler this year, there’s a half marathon and even a 50-mile ultramarathon.
But there is no traditional marathon — until this year.
The Mount Nittany Conservancy, which preserves and maintains more than 800 acres on Mount Nittany, is stepping in to fill the gap.
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The Mt. Nittany Marathon will be held Sept. 1 with a 26.2-mile run around the Centre Region beginning at 8 a.m. at Medlar Field and ending near Beaver Stadium.
“The last time anyone held a marathon around here, it was the Nittany Valley Track Club around 1983 or ’84,” said conservancy President John Hook. “Our board was sitting around two years ago talking about ways to increase awareness of the mountain. We asked, ‘How could we do that?’
“Every charity has a dinner, a golf outing, a 5K,” he added. “Everyone said the same thing within 2 seconds: Do a marathon.”
So Hook and his group began to talk to other runners and race organizers, asking what the conservancy should do.
They decided to hold the race in the autumn, when runners have built up enough endurance and had time to train and run smaller races in the spring and summer.
“We thought, let’s do it in early September,” Hook said. “The dead of winter is out. In the summer, no students are here. In the spring, there are a ton of 5Ks. And you can’t do it on a football weekend.”
The race also will be a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, and Hook said more than 130 people have already registered for the local race. Registration can be filled out online at http://mtnittany.org.
“I said that if we get 100 runners in our first year, I’d be more than happy,” he said.
To get the race going, the conservancy still needs volunteers.
“About 175 would work,” Hook said. That’s everyone from the helpers who distribute water and Gatorade at the drink stops to the course marshals who help direct runners.
The night before the race, Aug. 31, racers and anyone with an appetite for Italian food can check out what’s being billed as America’s Longest Pasta Table — a carb-loading event and fundraiser for the conservancy. The dinner will be held at 5 p.m. at Pugh Street and Calder Way. It’s $10 for the general public and $5 for runners.
The race is $75, and the registration deadline is Friday.