All Cowtown races are set to start as scheduled this weekend in Fort Worth.
Organizers had been monitoring weather conditions all week after days of freezing temperatures across North Texas but confirmed Friday, they don't anticipate any delays or alterations to their races this weekend due to weather. Heidi Swartz, executive director of The Cowtown, said they will have a team go out prior to the races on Saturday to check on course conditions.
After a modified race in 2021 in response to the pandemic, all distances are returning for the 2022 races with the exception of the children's 5K. Swartz said typically, the children's 5K draws about 8,000 people and social distancing would have been a challenge. The 10K race is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, and the 5K race is scheduled to follow at 8:30 a.m. The longer distance races – the half marathon, the marathon, and the ultramarathon – are scheduled for Sunday morning.
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Runners still have the option to run virtually this year. Swartz said about 15,000 runners will participate in-person this weekend, and just under 1,000 are expected to run virtually.
Planning for this year's race weekend has been extensive, Swartz said Friday.
"We’ve kind of had to change a lot of our layout here at Will Rogers Memorial Center, so our venue has changed drastically from what we did in 2020. So, we kind of recreated the wheel again," she said. "Our start line is the same, but our finish line is different. Once the runners finish, the whole after-area where they go for their food and water and reuniting area is completely changed from what we did in 2020."
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On Friday, runners were able to pick up their official race packets and bibs at the Cowtown Marathon's Health and Wellness Expo at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. James Slay of Fort Worth will be running his first marathon ever on Sunday.
"Three years ago, I had the gastric sleeve surgery," Slay said. "My first round of weight loss, I lost 132 pounds. The time before that, 152. I think in total, I lost 288 pounds. So, this is big achievement for me."
Slay said there's more excitement than there are nerves approaching Sunday. He's been training for the marathon for the past two years.
"I used to run when I was a kid so when the pandemic happened, the gyms closed and I knew I wanted to keep going. So, I just started running everyday. Built up to five miles, ten miles, and eventually I was like…you know, I’m already running 13, 14 miles," he said. "It’s just building up. It’s a commitment."
Meghan O'Gorman of Irving has run more than 100 half-marathons. She plans to run the full marathon on Sunday after running the 5K with her father Dennis. They have been running together for the past five years, and Saturday will be a special run as he turns 80-years-old.
"I enjoy it. He doesn’t like running with me," O'Gorman said, chuckling. "He makes me run ahead, but I enjoy it. We get to share it together."
Times for the Cowtown Marathon’s Health and Wellness Expo on Friday were moved from noon to 1 p.m. to allow for an improvement of road conditions and travel to and from Will Rogers, organizers said.
Each year, the Cowtown Marathon weekend has an economic impact of about $10.4 million to the city of Fort Worth.