A Labor Day tradition in Columbia delayed due to weather
COLUMBIA - The Labor Day holiday isn't just a day off for many business owners and government officials, it also marks a Columbia tradition.
Runners got up early Monday morning to participate in the 55th annual Heart of America (HOA) Marathon. There were a few weather-related issues, however.
Heavy thunderstorms caused an hour delay in the race's start time.
"It's been on Labor Day since 1960 except for an eight-year stretch when we had it in October," HOA Race Director Joe Duncan said. "That was during the 80s we had a medical doctor who told us that we were foolish in staging a race of this kind on Labor Day when it's hot and humid."
Duncan said that not all of the registered runners were from the United States.
"Only one country outside of the U.S. and that's a fella coming here from Japan," Duncan said. "If you see number 155 out there that's the fellow from Tokyo."
Past and current participants said HOA is one of the toughest and most physically challenging marathon's they've ever run.
Tom May has competed on and off throughout the years and has finished roughly eight races.
"My first time was probably 20 years ago and then out of the last ten years, I think I've probably started all of them, maybe not finish all of them," May said.
The 26.2-mile race takes runners through parts of Southern Columbia down towards the Missouri River and then loops back around Rock Bridge State Park finishing on Broadway in downtown Columbia.
Columbia Police Department Traffic Unit Supervisor Sergeant Curtis Perkins said motorists in Columbia shouldn't have any delays except for the finish line near Seventh and Broadway.
Sgt. Perkins also said that runners should be on the side of the road and not in traffic.
Duncan expected about 250 runners and said that the majority of them should be able to finish.
Only 210 remained by race time Monday morning.