Columbia Labor Day marathon kicks off its 59th year

2 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Sunday, September 03 2017 Sep 3, 2017 Sunday, September 03, 2017 7:15:00 PM CDT September 03, 2017 in News
By: Zara McDowell, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - The Heart of America Marathon turns 59 Monday and the race is set to start Labor Day morning.

While Labor Day usually means taking a break, the marathon runners are doing anything but.

Val Mertens, a Chicago resident and cancer survivor, is adding the Heart of America Marathon to his impressive list of 26.2 mile runs. 

"I've run 54 marathons in 49 states up to this point, this is my 55th in my 50th state," said Mertens.

This Columbia tradition started on Labor Day in 1958 and has not missed a year since.

Runners come from all over the world to take part in what's been coined as the hardest, yet most beautiful marathon in the world. 

Mertens said this race means more to him than just another marathon to check off his list. 

"I'm running in memory of a couple people, and in celebration that I'm still here," Mertens said, "In 2008, I ended up with kidney cancer, had to take a little while off and just came back swinging a couple of months after surgery." 

Mertens said it's taken him 20 years to complete a marathon in every state, his first marathon was in Alaska.

"We re-certified the course according to the USAT (USA Triathlon) standards, my partner timer... came down and rode the whole thing on a bike...got the course measured within a quarter of an inch of accuracy," Marathon Timer Tony Castelli said, "Timing is just a big challenge, kind of a puzzle."

Mertens said he took a ride on the course to prepare for the marathon and, "it's a little rougher" than he expected.

To view pictures of the past marathons click here.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Dozens of people came out Saturday for the eighth annual Fall Into Art show at Parkade Plaza. ... More >>
1 hour ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 5:19:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
HARRISBURG, MO - A warm bed, a hot meal, and hugs from a loving family member are common enough memories... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 3:00:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - Two Osage Beach residents were pronounced dead early Saturday morning following a single-car crash late Friday night.... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:54:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Macon man and two others were hospitalized Saturday morning in one of two crashes that occurred... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:24:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – New blood pressure guidelines mean nearly half of adults in the U.S. that did not have high blood... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:12:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Officials are testing for asbestos among the debris left from a massive St. Louis warehouse fire.... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:17:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri prosecutor will not file criminal charges against a Southwest Airlines pilot arrested after Transportation... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:07:54 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis man is facing charges for allegedly shooting a mechanic in a dispute over... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:59:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Christmas holiday begins this weekend at Union Station in Kansas City. The station... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:55:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The state of Missouri is looking for input on how to spend $41 million from... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:41:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Holiday Festival is giving local vendors a platform to support mid-Missouri charities this weekend. The Holiday... More >>
7 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:42:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police and fire department units responded to reports of an overturned car at Grayson Cottages early Saturday... More >>
11 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:53:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in Continuous News
CAMDENTON - The place a man envisioned as his retreat away from the hustle and bustle of regular life now... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:05:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Shots were fired in downtown Columbia early Saturday morning in an area typically packed with late night celebrants.... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:49:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - One person was hurt in a crash on Stadium Boulevard at the intersections of East Pointe Road and... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 9:12:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center off Providence Road caught fire Friday night. A division chief said crews... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 8:19:52 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Each of Missouri’s counties are slating new council members for their MU Extension County Council. The councils... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 6:52:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – The Missouri State Highway Patrol will be putting "all available troopers" on the roads over Thanksgiving week. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 5:58:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 41°
8pm 42°
9pm 41°
10pm 40°
11pm 38°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00p
Will & Grace
7:30p
Superstore
8:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Will & Grace
7:30p
Superstore
8:00p
Dateline NBC
9:00p
Saturday Night Live
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers
8:30p
Bob's Burgers
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld