January 31, 2014 10:42:28 AM
Brad Atkins has said before he would much rather prefer competing in road races or triathlons than help organize and run them.
But Atkins is willing to invest the time to help put together an event if it brings people to the area and creates competitive opportunities for runners and others to develop healthy habits.
That's why Atkins has taken the lead and is working with the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau to bring the inaugural Columbus Pilgrimage Half Marathon and 5-Kilometer run to the city of Columbus on Saturday, April 12. Held in conjunction with the Pilgrimage, which gives visitors a chance to tour the city's historic antebellum homes and churches and participate in other events, the Half Marathon / 5K race will give competitors a chance to compete in a longer race (a half marathon is a little more than 13.1 miles).
"We don't have a half marathon in town," said Atkins, who was instrumental in organizing the Possum Town Triathlon, which is held in August. "Hopefully this will pull in some really fast guys and it will give us a chance to pull in people from out of town to come and see the homes in Columbus."
Atkins said the half marathon will go off at 7 a.m. April 12, followed by the 5K race at 7:15 a.m. He said both courses will take runners through Columbus and give them a taste of the pilgrimage. He credited Nancy Carpenter, the executive director of the CCVB, for providing financial support to hold the event.
"She came to me after the 10-K race (in town) and asked me if I would like to direct the race," Atkins said. "We started talking about how we could make it bigger and bring in more people. She is really willing to put money into the race. I wasn't interested in directing it, but I decided to take it on because I always would have liked to see it happen."
Atkins said there will be prizes and cash awards for winners, along with T-shirts and medals for race participants. He said his goal is to have more than 100 competitors for the half marathon and more than 100 for the 5-K. He said work started on the event in November, and that he is confident everything will be worked out for the race to be a hit, much like the Possum Town Triathlon, in April.
"We did the triathlon and it worked out good," Atkins said. "My goal No. 1 is to bring people into the town because Columbus is a nice city to host this kind of stuff. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by the city. It is great to be affiliated with the Pilgrimage.
"I think we're going to have it ready. We're just going to have to play a little catch-up to get it done, but I think we will be ready."
Atkins said there will be prizes and cash awards for winners, along with T-shirts and medals for race participants. He said his goal is to have more than 100 competitors for the half marathon and more than 100 for the 5-K.
For more information about the race, go to columbushalfmarathon5k.com. Atkins said the website is being built but there are links available for those who are interested in signing up to take part.