Dallas Marathon’s plan to inflict increased suffering on runners, city

Photo by Benjamin Hager

If running 26.2 miles through the rolling neighborhoods of Dallas sounds too wimpy for you, no worries. The Dallas Marathon this year adds an ultra-marathon into the mix — that is, a 50k (about 31 miles) race.

If you aim to tackle either, it’s time to start training. And registration is open now.

The Dallas Marathon has been making its way around the city every December for the past 45 years or so. Things have changed over the decades. About 100 people participated in the first couple years, when the course involved circling the lake two times.

Today the event accommodates some 30,000 participants, transverses multiple neighborhoods, boosts the Dallas economy nearly $9 million per year and brings in charity funds (Scottish Rite) also in the millions.

Organizers have added events, such as a half marathon, relays, kids races, a 10k and a 5k, to make marathon weekend more inclusive.

Planning the marathon course — not to mention the rest — is an ordeal. First the board must submit an application to the office of special events. That department works as an umbrella over the other departments.

“Because of our size, police, DART, parks and recreation, traffic … we need approval from practically every city department,” the director tells the Advocate.

No matter what, though, people complain. A lot, and for varied reasons. Runners might whine about hills or stretches that make for slower times. And those uninterested in the sport are not thrilled about all-day street closures, noise, trash or the proliferation of portable toilets.

The Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth in February was unique in its inclusion of a 50-kilometer “ultra.” It is not a common distance to run on the road (usually distances beyond 26.2 are run on dirt trails).

Related: Nation’s top female ultra-runners from Dallas

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