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Runners take SLO

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For the first time in 26 years, on April 22 San Luis Obispo will be host to a 26.2 mile race that will give both residents and visitors a chance to take in the local scenery, challenge themselves physically, and possibly take home a gold medal. Contestants have the opportunity to choose between a 26.2-mile full marathon, a 13.1-mile half marathon, and a 5k race, providing runners of all skill levels an opportunity to pound the pavement and feel the thrill of completing a distance run.

- IT TAKES A WINNER :  Heather Hellman is giving local runners an opportunity to show off their stuff with a local marathon. -  - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • IT TAKES A WINNER : Heather Hellman is giving local runners an opportunity to show off their stuff with a local marathon.

Coordinator Heather Hellman believes SLO is an ideal location for a marathon event because of the number of active people in the community. Hellman also said that the landscape of SLO, including rolling hills, volcanic peaks, and well-paved roads, is the perfect setting for people to go outdoors and stay fit.

“This is a training ground,” she said. “You can walk out your door, and there are so many great places to run and cycle. It’s really an active community.”

The race route, certified by USA Track and Field, showcases some of the scenic highlights of the area, leading contestants on a loop through downtown SLO before spilling them out into wine country in Edna Valley. The undulating terrain will make this marathon a much more challenging race compared to others, such as the California International Marathon, which is held on flat ground in Sacramento later this year.

“This particular route is challenging,” Hellman said. “If anyone qualifies for Boston here, they are a pretty darn good runner.”

Having such a big race in SLO will make a sizeable impact on the local economy, Hellman said, with hotels and restaurants filling up over the weekend. Hellman hopes that by giving visitors a glimpse of the beauty of SLO, they’ll be swayed to make it their next vacation destination and further stimulate local tourism.

“A big part of what we are trying to do with this race is to show off San Luis Obispo and kind of market to people from out of town to come here. We are trying to give people a taste of what the SLO life is,” Hellman said.

Participants in the full and half marathons will receive a T-shirt, a virtual goodie bag, and an inaugural finisher’s medal. The race will culminate in the SLO Life Expo at the Madonna Inn, featuring live music and exhibiting the abundance of wine and tasty food available in SLO County.

The half marathon is at full capacity, with 2,000 people already signed up. The full marathon has about two-dozen spots open, and will be capped off when organizers reach 800 sign-ups. The full and half marathon will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society through their Team in Training program, and the 5k proceeds will help the local Special Olympics chapter.

To find out more information or register for the San Luis Obispo Marathon, visit slomarathon.com or check it out on Facebook at facebook.com/slomarathon.

Fast fact

The CASA Walk for the Child benefit event will be held on April 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Atascadero Lake Park. The event will feature live music, a bounce house, a post-walk barbecue, and raffle prizes for the walkers. Everyone who raises a minimum of $100 gets a T-shirt. The event will bring assistance to the 471 children under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court because they were abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents. Contact Cathy Orton at 541-6542 for more information or visit slocasa.org.

Contributor Jack Johnson compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business and nonprofit news to strokesandplugs@newtimesslo.com.

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