Oakland Running Festival set for Sunday

March 26, 2010 7:21:29 PM PDT
The weather will be perfect this weekend for a nice run in the sunshine and that is what's happening Sunday in Oakland -- the first marathon in the city in 25 years. There will be some street closures as runners make their way from 14th and Broadway throughout the city. It is a race route designed to test competitors and to show off the city.

More than 6,300 runners will circle Lake Merritt during the 26 plus miles and thousands more will be watching them. This run will be about Oakland's image.

"This is a real win for Oakland, not only do we have this opportunity to host our first-ever, national caliber marathon, but we're in partnership with a national reputable firm which pays all city services," says Oakland Director of Marketing Sammy Roberts.

And they are putting money into local charities. Lee Corrigan of Baltimore heads the company organizing this marathon. He says Oakland is the biggest city in the country without a major running event.

"We started Baltimore 10 years ago and the Baltimore Marathon has grown into a 22,000-person event which generates $25 million in economic impact every year," says Corrigan.

That economic boom is the kinds of things they like to hear in Oakland. The race will begin near City Hall and run through business and residential neighborhoods, into the hills with spectacular views, then downhill along Lake Merritt and the waterfront. Some of that is tricky.

"The goal there is to take it easy, let gravity help you go down the hill, take smaller steps," says event director Gene Brtalik.

It is scenic, challenging and illuminating, reflecting Oakland's diversity. The course has been designed for the runner's comfort and safety. It also gets close to some areas that have been violence prone.

"Every urban marathon runs through not the nicest sections and Baltimore has the same reputation as Oakland as a matter of fact," says Corrigan.

"The runners are not concerned, the organizers who are from out of town are not concerned, we're not concerned," says Roberts.

"You know, we've got 300 officers there on the streets protecting the runners. I think people are going to come out, cheer them on, and really support them," says Corrigan.

Corrigan says this is not going to be a one-time event. He sees the Oakland Marathon growing into a major international competition.

There will be street closures. Click here for a list and more information on those closures.


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