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The ninth annual Sedona Marathon comes to Sedona this Saturday, Feb. 1.

More than 2,000 runners will hit the track on Saturday morning, running not just for first place, but pitting themselves against the track. The race starts behind the Sedona campus of Verde Valley Medical Center and continues out onto U.S. Forest Service land and back.

Thomas Rivers Ruzey, of Flagstaff, won the 2014 Sedona Marathon. Some 2,627 runners raced in the marathon, half-marathon, 10K and 5K on Saturday, Feb. 1..While the 26.2-mile marathon is the eponymous race for the hardcore runners, many more run the 13.1-mile half-marathon, while families run the 10K and 5K races. Many of the runners come from outside the Verde Valley, making the trek from around the country and the state to participate in the run. A good number of the short-distance runners are locals looking for a family event on an otherwise quiet February weekend.

The four different races take place early Saturday morning. While the full marathon is effectively a day-long affair, the shorter 5K and 10K races are over by noon. The runners bring to the marathon not just a desire to improve their personal records by completing a strenuous physical challenge, but often bring friends and relatives to cheer them on.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamAccording to figures from the 2012 Sedona Marathon, the total economic impact from the race is $1.6 million. This doesn’t just calculate the income from the race, but overnight stays in local hotels, motels and resorts by runners and their supporters, meals at Sedona-area restaurants and drinks at local bars after the race. Wineries, galleries, performing arts venues and tour companies all see an uptick in traffic, which serves as a litmus for how the spring tourist season will pan out.

Despite all the celebrations of human physical achievement, the measurable contribution to our economy and tax base and a sense of community stemming from volunteers at aid stations, families running together or fans cheering them on, one NIMBY or two was inevitable.

For those new to Sedona, a NIMBY — or “not in my backyard” — is one who wants all the benefits of living in a community, but ignores the fact they, too, live in a community.

One letter writer last week complained that the 5K runners will spend part of their race on Kachina Drive. The road is public, paid for by Sedona taxes from locals and tourists. The runners are on public property and will not be running across private land. Fire and police vehicles will still have full access in case of an emergency. The road will be closed to vehicles for a short time, but residents are by no means forbidden from leaving on foot, bicycle, skateboard or rickshaw.

More than half of the 5K runners are locals. If the city decides next year to close off my public street for the marathon, I can set up a lawn chair, drink lemonade and cheer on the friends and neighbors I’ll likely see in the race. It would also be the perfect time to hold a yard sale with a sign reading, “After the race, come back for great deals!”

Surely a 45-minute closure early on a Saturday morning isn’t the end of the world. On Page 3A of today’s edition is a photo from the 1988 St. Patrick’s Parade, back in the days when Sedona residents would shut down State Route 89A for hours to celebrate Irish heritage and the Sedona community as a whole.

Every year, the city of Las Vegas closes the Strip, one of the busiest streets in the country, for the annual Great Santa Run. If tens of thousands can manage to navigate the area, surely we can too.

We hope all the Sedona Marathon runners enjoy their races this weekend. The community of Sedona will be out in person or in spirit to cheer you on.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor

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