Race director tells history behind Columbia marathon

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COLUMBIA - Instead of taking a day of rest, some individuals spent their Labor Day running in Columbia's Heart of America Marathon. 

The race started at 6 a.m. Monday morning at Monk Drive and Stadium, going west, near the Hampton Inn. The race concludes around noon at 7th and Broadway in downtown Columbia. 

John Marshall came out to the race to watch his son and daughter participate in the race. 

"It's the hardest marathon because of the hills and this heat is brutal," said Marshall. 

He said it's his daughters first marathon and his son's fourth. 

This year was the 56th Annual Heart of America Marathon.

Race Director, Joe Duncan said the race began back in 1960 when a man by the name of Bill Clark had a challenge between three boxers and three or four runners.

"The boxers thought they could outrun the runners, so they all took off and the boxers didn't even make it out of the city limits of Columbia," said Duncan.

He said for the first three years of the marathon it started in Columbia and ended in Fulton. He said as more people joined the race, getting the runners back to Columbia became difficult. Now, the race starts and ends in Columbia.

Duncan said about 200 runners participated this year. Ice baths were provided at the finish for runners to soothe sore muscles and cool off from the heat.

"There is a post race party at Shakespeare's Pizza that runners enjoy," said Duncan.

There was an entry fee of $45. The money went to paying for race shirts, the 150 volunteer shirts, and off-duty police.

The complete course map along with written directions of the route can be found at http://www.columbiatrackclub.com/hoa/course.htm.