Good luck to all runners in the Sedona Marathon.

For 12 years, runners from around the world have laced up their sneakers and hit the asphalt of West Sedona to compete in the annual Sedona Marathon.

Athletes young and old will run one of four races, anywhere from a short 5 kilometers to a full marathon of 26.22 miles — or 42.195 kilometers — on Saturday, Feb. 4.

The 12th year of the marathon marks the sixth year its production is lead by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. The chamber scrambled in 2012, taking the race over just in time to save it from demise when the former race organizer announced she wouldn’t be producing a marathon that year. Seeing the need for a winter event and the thousands of tax dollars the race brings to Sedona, the chamber stepped in and ran with it.

The event not only brings in hundreds of runners from around the country, but hundreds of residents from Sedona and the Verde Valley run solo, in groups or as families. Students from our local middle school and high school track teams pit themselves against the track to see if they have the passion and commitment to run the 10K, half-marathon and even the full marathon.
Many participants are running to simply participate in a community event while others are challenging only a single person, themselves.

While I only run when being chased by something with poisonous fangs, sharp teeth or horns, I appreciate the effort to push one’s body to its limits as well as the history of the race itself:
According to Greek legend, after the 10,000-strong citizen army of Athens defeated a Persian landing force of 25,000 on the shores of Marathon in 490 B.C. and burned their ships to the waterline, the 40-year-old courier Pheidippides ran 25 miles across the rocky terrain to Athens proclaiming “Nikomen!” — “We have won!” — then collapsed and died. Whether true or not, the founding story of the marathon became popular through Robert Browning’s 1879 poem “Pheidippides.”

At the 1908 Olympics, the 26.22-mile distance was merely the length from the private royal entrance of Windsor Castle to White City Stadium, followed by one lap on the track finishing in front of the Royal Box of King Edward VII. The distance was standardized at the Paris Olympics in 1924.

Whether a runner completes a marathon first and in record time, or comes in dead last, they have still run a marathon, an achievement few of us can say we’ve accomplished in our lives. After racing in the 13.1 half-marathon, 10K run and 5K runs, crossing the finish line feels like victory.

To capture all the glory of our modern-day marathon, sports reporter Daniel Hargis and photojournalists Jordan Reece and Hunt Mercier will be along the race route shooting photos and getting quotes for newspapers we’ll publish along with all the results on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

The Sedona Red Rock News wishes good luck to all the runners. Both locals on the sidelines and those in the race welcomes runners and friends who made the trip to our city for the Sedona Marathon.

When you cross the finish line of your races Saturday, remember to shout “Nikomen!”