Race coordinator says changes in place for city’s largest marathon

This weekend’s Kansas City Marathon will bring thousands of runners, lots of attention, and probably a few traffic headaches to Midtown.

The city’s biggest marathon – with an estimated 12,000 runners expected – begins Saturday morning at Crown Center. It takes participants past the Sprint Center, Power and Light District, and Liberty Memorial before they race through Midtown on Main Street toward the Plaza and then head south.

Some central city residents have been known to complain loudly about the inconvenience of the marathon’s street closures, while others point out the economic and tourism benefits to the city and local businesses.

The city’s recently-appointed race coordinator hopes  better coordination and communication will cause fewer headaches for residents this year.

“Things are going to be different this year.  We have taken some big steps,” she says.

Jenny Chronister is a runner herself. She just returned from the Chicago Marathon and knows for a fact that marathoners are good for the economy of the towns they visit.

She says many cities are seeing an increase in the number of race events, and they are hiring race coordinators like ehr. Kansas City expects to have 60 races this year, and part of Chronister’s job is checking the calendar before a race is scheduled.

As applications come to us, we evaluate the route as a whole, looking at not only races, but city events occurring in those neighborhoods on the date, and surrounding dates.  We are trying to make sure that the races are not impacting one area more than others multiple weekends in a row.  One of our primary objectives is to bring a balance to the process,” she says.

Once the race is allowed, Chronister and her team use email, news releases, mailers and signage to let people know in advance.

And for the big marathon on Saturday, they’ve taken extra steps.

For one thing, volunteers and officers at intersections will have maps to help drivers navigate around the course. They’ll also be allowing motorists to cross when its safe for runners, although she says traffic delays during the times of heaviest runner traffic should be expected.

race course and traffic information