"I started the marathon because I saw a great opportunity for an event to bring people to our state," said Jamie Summerlin, race coordinator. "40% of our participants are from out of state and for many it’s their first time in Morgantown, or West Virginia. I wanted to showcase the beauty in our backyard."
The marathon is in its third year and this year more than 1,000 participants are expected to attend. Currently runners represent more than 30 states and three countries, including Japan, Mexico and Canada.
The marathon acts as not only a showcase for West Virginia, but funds raised go to support a great cause as well.
"I did a run across America in 2012 when Operation Welcome Home was just starting up," Summerlin said. "It’s an organization I hold near and dear to my heart. My wife and I are Marine Corps vets and we are thrilled to see what the organization has grown to and fortunate to be apart of it and help promote them."
Operation Welcome Home is a job placement organization in Morgantown for veterans. They help veterans find jobs and provide other support services. In the past five years the organization has helped more than 300 veterans find jobs.
Runners are warned this is not a race for the inexperienced. Taking on a the hashtag "yes it’s hilly" as a tagline.
"It’s a challenging course and it is not a flat course," Summerlin said. "It’s not the race for your average weekend runner. People who attend come out because it is a challenge."
Although the races are geared towards experienced runners, the weekend of pre-race events are free and all members of the community are welcome to attend.
Race weekend will start with the WVU Medicine Marathon Weekend Kickoff Event at Monongalia County Baseball Park. Community members of all ages are invited to take part in a fun run/walk, learn more about the marathon and enjoy a night of entertainment.
"Our Friday Sept. 22 health and wellness expo is not just for runners to come pick up their packets," Summerlin said. "We encourage families to bring their kids and promote health and wellness across the state."
West Virginia University students are also encouraged to come out to help and participate in the weekend of events.
"We want students to come out and get involved in the community," said Summerlin. "They can volunteer to earn iServe hours if they do not run the event themselves."
At the end of the race, runners can look forward to even more excitement. The finish line will be a celebration of triumph of one of the toughest marathon courses out there, with a stage with live music, tables of free food and crowds cheering to celebrate the runners' accomplishments.
"We really encourage students to come out," Summerlin said. "If they can’t volunteer, we encourage them to cheer on the runners as they pass by Mountainlair and High Street. They can even come out to the colosseum at the beginning or end of the event and cheer as well."
For more information about volunteering search "Morgantown Marathon" on iServe. For students interested in running the event there is a 25% discount for students using the code WVUSTUD2517.