Sunscreen might come in handy on Saturday for more than 31,000 runners competing in the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon.
Temperatures could reach into the 80s by the time each race ends. Both start in front of Centennial Park on West End Avenue and conclude across the Cumberland River at LP Field.
But race general manager Adam Zocks isn’t complaining about above-average warm weather.
“It looks like it is going to be a nice day,” Zocks said. “A little on the warm side but it should be a good day to run.”
Rain isn’t in the forecast either, which is encouraging. Last year massive thunderstorms hit the area during the race. The proximity of the lightning and thunder forced Zocks and race officials to direct marathon runners to the finish line, well short of the 26.2-mile distance.
“It was a very challenging day,” Zocks said. “We had to make a snap decision for the safety of the runners and spectators. It was definitely dangerous and we made the decision to make sure everyone got off the course safely and had the best possible experience we could give them.”
For some runners, it was frustrating to hear that they couldn’t finish the race after months of training. Zocks, however, said most understood the decision.
“When we cut off the course and [with] lightning flashing all over the place, they certainly understood and realized the decision was in their best interest,” Zocks said. “There were a few people who didn’t agree with it, but we have to go with the safety of thousands of runners and not a couple runners who thought we were wrong.”
This will mark the fourth straight year of at least 30,000 runners.
When the race, which is a production of Competitor Group, started in 2000 with just a full marathon, there were fewer than 6,000 participants.
Zocks said registration (nashville.competitor.com) will be taken through Friday, but it appears entries won’t match or exceed the race record of 32,300 runners, which was set last year.
“It is still one of the biggest events in the country,” Zocks said.
“Over 30 [thousand] is nothing to be ashamed about. I don’t know in the early days if I ever imagined it to get as big as it has. The reason why is it has been a quality event all 12 years. From the operations side, runners get a great product and a great event.”
Saturday’s race starts at 7 a.m.