It’s a new year with a brand-new calendar, and the first race to go on the 2021 calendar is the Galveston Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K, scheduled for Feb. 21.

“We’re very thankful that the city of Galveston is issuing permits for races, as long as there’s a thorough COVID-19 plan,” race director Jana Landry said. “This is our 10th year to put on the Galveston Marathon, and it feels great to know that, barring any dire circumstances, we’ll be able to have an event that’s safe but fun.”

Unlike almost everything else in the running world, the course for the Galveston Marathon hasn’t changed.

All three distances start at Stewart Beach and loop through Beachtown. From there, 5K participants head back to Stewart Beach, while the longer-distance runners head to the east end of the seawall before dropping down to Boddeker Drive, then returning to the seawall for a long stretch down to the Pleasure Pier. From the Pleasure Pier, it’s another eastward leg back to the finish line. Half-marathoners complete the loop once, while marathoners repeat the course a second time.

While the course is the same, Landry expects the field to look a bit different.

“In the past, we’ve had international entrants from the U.K., Japan, China and all over Canada,” she said. “Unfortunately, those runners will be staying home this year, so we don’t expect to have as many runners.”

Entrants and spectators can count on extensive COVID-19 precautions.

“There will be a wave start to spread out the runners, and fewer volunteers at the aid stations,” Landry said. “We’re not having pacers this year because the whole point of a pace group is for a bunch of people to stay together, and that’s the last thing we want right now.”

At the finish line, medals will be waiting for the finishers, and to limit contact, each finisher will individually retrieve their own medal from a hanger. Landry assures participants that the precautions will not be too onerous.

“In order for the city to approve this, and for us to do it, there have to be some rules, and everyone has to follow them. It will still be a fun atmosphere, and it will still be a beautiful beachfront course.”

Registration is now open at Galvestonmarathon.com.

Bernice Torregrossa: bernice92@aol.com.

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clifford Shock

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