Denver’s largest running event, the Colfax Marathon, and its concurrent races of shorter distances are back after a hiatus of 880 days that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The marathon, half marathon, marathon relay and 10-miler were last held on May 19, 2019. When they return on Oct. 16, it will mark the first large-scale running event in Colorado since the 2019 Bolder Boulder Memorial Day race. The Colfax races, which also include a 5K in City Park on Oct. 17, are on pace to have 14,000 entrants, according to executive director Andrea Dowdy.
Elsewhere, fall marathons are resuming as well. The Chicago Marathon returns Oct. 10 after being canceled last year. The Boston Marathon, normally held in April, will be run on Oct. 11, and the New York City Marathon is set for Nov. 7. Colfax, normally held on the third Sunday in May, will return to its normal spot on the calendar next year.
“The excitement I’m seeing from folks,” Dowdy said, “they’re like, ‘This is something I can actually do. Even though we’re not out of this pandemic, I can get out and run and cross a finish line and have a great experience.’ That’s the biggest thing for me, to watch everyone come back with so much excitement and so much enthusiasm.”
There is a major change with the Colfax event: a new half-marathon course that will dramatically reduce the number of neighborhoods impacted by street closures. The old half-marathon course ran east from City Park to Aurora on Montview Boulevard, requiring closures of that street and about a dozen blocks of Colorado Boulevard. The new course will head west from City Park for a loop through downtown, as does the marathon, before returning to City Park. The marathon continues west into Lakewood before heading back to City Park.
The result: Races will unfold over 26 miles of pavement instead of 39.
“The city and the police were thrilled when we mentioned we were going to do this, because our course from now on is only west of Colorado Boulevard,” Dowdy said of the half-marathon change. “We no longer go way to the east, so from a (traffic) standpoint, they have a footprint that’s more concise that they can get their arms around. It’s more efficient for them to place officers on the course than when we spread out for long periods of time.”
Unlike previous years, the half marathon will start simultaneously with the marathon and marathon relay in City Park at 6:45 a.m. The 10-miler will start as usual in Lakewood at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, beginning at 9 a.m., with staggered starts of one to three runners at a time. The finish is at City Park.
There will be some minor changes with the pandemic in mind. Entry points to the start corrals will be larger than normal so runners can wait until just a few minutes before the start to line up. Finisher medals will not be placed over runners’ heads by volunteers, but will be handed to them. Aid stations will be expanded so runners grabbing Gatorade or water can do so with increased distancing from other runners, and volunteers will not hand runners their drinks; runners will grab them off tables themselves.
Traffic closures associated with the Colfax Marathon races on Oct. 16:
- Traffic on York Street between E. Colfax Avenue and E. 23rd Avenue will be closed from 6:30 until 8 a.m.
- Traffic will be closed on E. 23rd Avenue between York Street and Colorado Boulevard between 6:30 and 8:15 a.m.
- E. 17th Avenue from Detroit to York will be closed from 6:30 until 10 a.m.
- Westbound E. Colfax Avenue from Elizabeth Street (just south of East High School) to Speer Boulevard will be closed to vehicles from 7 until 10 a.m.
- Westbound W. Colfax Avenue from Interstate 25 to Garrison Street in Lakewood will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until noon.
- Raleigh Street from Colfax to E. 17th Avenue will be closed from 7:30 until 9:30 a.m.
- At least one lane of the following streets will close from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Lawrence Street from Speer to E. 17th; E. 17th Street to E. 17th Avenue; E. 17th Avenue to Vine Street.
- Vine Street from E. 17th to 22nd avenues will be closed to north-south vehicles from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
- There will be a one-lane closure on E. 22nd Avenue from Vine to Gaylord streets.
- Gaylord from E. 22nd to 21st avenues will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.
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