ORLANDO, Fla. – Thousands of runners are excited to be racing again during the first in-person marathon since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Two thousand runners participated in the OUC half marathon that raced its way through downtown Orlando Saturday morning.
It was something many runners, like Jessica Marlier, said they missed.
“I think it’s great just to start having in person races back and everything,” Marlier said.
But because of COVID-19, this year’s race is different.
Runners wore masks before and after the race, but they didn’t have to wear face coverings while running. Signs were also posted along the course asking runners to keep their distance.
Betsy Hughes with Track Shack, which organized the race, said they also spaced out the groups and asked runners wait on orange dots for their turn.
“Every time one corral starts the next corral is led forward. We have the little orange stickers on the ground, so they know they’re 6 feet apart,” Hughes said.
Hughes said they are taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe.
“It’s our first in person event since March and let me tell you we worked hard all summer and fall making sure all of our safety protocols are in place and will work,” Hughes said.
There weren’t as many spectators watching the runners along the 13.1-mile course.
Darlene Herndon was there to cheer on her husband. She said he has been training for this and is grateful he got the chance to race.
“I think they were able to still have the race which is awesome, and I think everybody is taking precautions,” Herndon said.
Volunteers cheered on the runners and handed out water while being socially distanced.
Seth Funderburg said he felt safe, adding it feels good to be back.
“Really joyful that they’ve given us an opportunity to race. I consider this a gift and I hope we’re all good stewards of it,” Funderburg said.