BEMIDJI-The sixth annual Blue Ox Marathon weekend is less than a week away and spots for all of the races are filling up fast.
The 26.2 mile full marathon, for example, is already full and the 26K race looping Lake Bemidji has 25 spots open.
"Registration-wise, we're up on last year," event director Philip Knutson said. "So by the day of the event, we're looking to be at least what we were in 2017, if not more."
When it comes to where participants will be running, Knutson said there is a slight adjustment for 2018.
"We're going to be keeping runners to the trail as much as we can and keeping Lake Shore Drive (Northeast) open," Knutson said. "We hope to create a better traffic flow and an overall safer environment. That's the only change and it's not really that huge."
For returning participants, the two-day event will be quite similar. Festivities get underway outside the Sanford Center at 4:20 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, with the ½-K Kids Fun Run, with a 1K Kids Fun Run to follow at 4:30 p.m. There is also a 5K and 10K run/walk on Friday.
Additionally, from 4:30 to 7 p.m., the Bemidji Rotary Club is once again holding the Blue Ox Pasta Feed. Tickets for the dinner are $10 per person and children younger than 5 eat free. Proceeds from the pasta feed benefit the Rotary Club.
The main three races of the event are all scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13.
According to the event website, each race has a cap on the total number of runners:
The 26K Lake Loop is limited to 200 runners. The 13.1-mile half marathon is limited to 350 runners. Participants in the half marathon will be bused to a starting line three miles up the Paul Bunyan Trail, allowing for completion outside the Sanford Center. The full marathon is limited to 150 runners.
Registration for both the Lake Loop and the half marathon is $80. Registration for the 10K is $50 and the 5K is $40. The cost to register for the Kids Fun Runs is $15. Registration for all of the events is open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.
In addition to the races, the Sanford Center will also house the Be Active Expo from 2-8 p.m. on Friday and again from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.
Vendors for the expo this year include:
• Sanford Orthopedics Sports Medicine.
• BeFAST Sportgear.
• Tortoise & Hare Footware.
• TEDx Bemidji.
• Harmony Co-op.
• The city of Bemidji.
• Bike Bemidji.
While the numbers for participants is looking good so far, Knutson said more volunteers are needed to help the event run smoothly.
"We're looking for more people, we've been trying to get the word out, on the radio and through email," Knutson said. "We're asking for help with setting up, tearing down and having people out along the marathon course."
If you go
What: Blue Ox Marathon
When: Friday events starting at 4:20 p.m.; Saturday events at 9 a.m.
Where: The Sanford Center, 1111 Event Center Drive NE.
Food and expo: Pasta dinner on Friday after the 5K and 10K. Be Active Expo from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.