WILMINGTON — Local officials are forewarning that traffic delays are imminent this Saturday, as 3,500 runners descend on southeastern North Carolina. The Novant Health Marathon will get underway, with participants crowding the routes from Wrightsville Beach to downtown Wilmington.
The 5-kilometer race, marathon (26.2 miles) and half-marathon (13.1 miles) will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. The full- and half-marathons start at Johnny Mercer Pier in Wrightsville Beach, move down Eastwood Road, taking up one single lane, to MLK Parkway, and wrap by 1:30 p.m. at Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Riverfront Park.
The full marathon will include a route toward Greenfield Lake and finish downtown (full map here). Downtown will also host the 5K and a free 1-mile kids run.
“This is a great course for runners, very flat with only a few turns and highlighting our beaches to our riverfront,” race director Tom Clifford noted in a release. “This will be a true ‘destination-to-destination race’ that runners from all over the country will appreciate.”
The marathon brings in over 3,000 runners annually and has a $4 million economic impact, according to the release. Many local nonprofits, organizations, churches, and schools reap financial benefits from it. In the past, the marathon has donated upward of $600,000 to Landfall Foundation, Health Possible, The Good Shepherd, Hoggard High School, Ashley High School, Noble Middle School, Laney High School Athletics, Topsail High School Track Team, UNCW and UNCW Athletics, Cape Fear Volunteer Center, Cape Fear Flyers, Wilmington Road Runners, among others.
“Big races like this gain attention for many reasons,” Clifford added in the release. “That attention ripples through the community, whether you volunteer, get alerted about the traffic, or you are running.”
Detours and barricades will be set up during the race, according to city officials. A list of closures include:
- Southbound North Front Street between North Third & Red Cross streets
- Red Cross Street between North Front & North Water streets
- North Water Street between Red Cross & Walnut streets
- North Water Street between Chestnut & Princess streets
- Princess Street between North Front & North Water streets (access to Water St. Center Parking lot via Princess St. & N. Front St. (controlled)
- Southbound Front Street between Princess St. &
- Southbound Front Street between North Third & Dawson streets (cross streets of, Nun, Ann, Orange, Dock, Market, Princess Chestnut, Grace, Walnut, Hanover, Brunswick, Harnett & Cowan streets open to vehicular traffic with controlled crossing by WPD and event volunteers)
- Westbound Orange Street between South Front & South Water streets
- Church Street at South Front Street
- Queen Street at South Front Street
- Northbound South Front Street between Burnett Boulevard/Carolina Beach Road and Dawson Street.
- South Front Street on-ramp to Cape Fear Memorial Bridge / westbound U.S. 74/76
- Greenfield Street between South Front Street & South Fifth Avenue / West Lakeshore Drive (eastbound lane open for resident/business access to South Front Street residents/businesses on Greenfield Street/North Second Street.)
- Northbound Nutt Street between Red Cross & Harnett streets
- Nutt Street Extension between Cowan Street & Harnett Street
A runners expo will take place at the Wilmington Convention Center on Feb. 24 and 25. Participants can pick up their packets from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 25. Racers need to bring ID or send their IDs with the person picking up the packet for them.
Bibs with tracking chips on them can also be picked up Saturday morning, the day of the race, at Johnny Mercers Pier for a $20 fee.
More information about the race can be found here.
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