Runners iced out of last month’s canceled Dallas Marathon have flocked west, swelling participation in Fort Worth’s annual endurance test to record levels.
The Cowtown Marathon already has registered a record number of runners for the 26.2-mile event on Feb. 23, event officials said Saturday.
With five weeks until runners take off at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, more than 1,800 have entered the 36th annual marathon, exceeding the last year’s record of 1,692.
“They trained and needed some place to go,” said Heidi Schwartz, executive director of the Cowtown Marathon.
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Cowtown officials offered marathoners in Dallas a discount to enter the race.
Half marathon participation is up, too, Schwartz said.
Among those competitors will be Elizabeth Eder, last year’s overall winner who used near-perfect weather to capture the women’s title in a record time of 2 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds.
“I ran Chicago in October and need to take a break,” said Eder, 26, who took part in a practice run Saturday, organized by a handful of running clubs, at the Cowtown headquarters off of Eighth Avenue. “I probably won’t run another marathon until the end of the year.”
About 100 runners, such as Eder, took excursions of 7, 11 or 20 miles. Some others stretched out the workout even farther. All were greeted at the finish line with a pancake breakfast.
Thousands eventually will gather next month for a 5K and a 10K on Feb. 22, followed by the half and marathon the next day.
Eder, the Fort Worth Nolan Catholic graduate who studied at Trinity in San Antonio, also brought news with her.
By virtue of a finish of 2:42.37 in Chicago, Eder qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials to be held in either Cincinnati, Houston or Los Angeles, where she will vie to compete for a spot in the marathon in Rio Games.
“I haven’t come up with a game plan yet,” she said on plans to prepare.
New records were also established last year in the men’s marathon (Craig Ottman, 2:44.27) and the men’s ultra (Logan Sherman, 3:10.40).
Triathletes Steve Holstein and Jennifer Lee, members of the FWTri Club who both competed in an Ironman in Lake Tahoe, Calif., in September, will each run the half next month.
Holstein has run 18 marathons since his first, at the Cowtown in 2000.
Holstein picked it up after a meeting in which his doctor presented cold, hard truths.
He’s dropped 50 pounds over the years while reinvigorating his health.
“I travel quite a bit for work,” Holstein said. “Running is a way to see the towns I visit. It’s a favorite thing to do.
“With the exception of upstate New York. Syracuse is a little nasty during wintertime.”