TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon is a little more than a month away and final planning is happening now.

Last year, COVID-19 canceled the annual race but this year, after months of planning the race is back.

Race officials along with Mercy Health and the Toledo Lucas County Health department have been working for months to come up with best practices that protect the participants, volunteers and spectators. Due to current health orders and the virus, there are some big changes.

All participants must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination 2 weeks before the Glass City Marathon or provide negative test results 72 hours before the race.

Race Director Clint McCormick tells 13abc that decision was made by the sports medicine team with Mercy Health. In addition to the vaccine or negative test results, the race itself will have fewer competitors. During a typical year, there are 10,000 participants spread out across the marathon, half-marathon, relay, 5K ad kids race. This year, the field is cut down to 7,250 and the kids race is canceled.

McCormick says the goal is to provide more space and time between competitors so there will be multiple starting lines and many additional corrals or waves of runners leaving at different times in an effort to give everyone safe distances to run without overcrowding.

“The marathon is a separate start line so we are going to be running two simultaneous start lines and then they will merge on the course after the first mile,” says McCormick.

The finish line is still inside of the UT Glass Bowl but spectators are not allowed at the finish and all runners will then be escorted out quickly in shoot-style fashion.

Masks will be required for all spectators at all times and for competitors, anytime they are not actively running. The Glass City Marathon is the first in the region for the season and McCormick says if all goes well it could set a new standard for large races in the future.

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