GOSHEN — Runners with a gusto of going long distances will gather again this weekend at Goshen College and local housing charities will benefit.
The fourth annual Maple Leaf Marathon, which has turned into an event getting national attention, steps off this year with three 26.2-mile races (Saturday at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 7 a.m.) inside the Roman Gingerich Rec-Fitness Center and proceeds will again help LaCasa and this year also go to Habitat for Humanity as a part of the school’s Leaf Relief program.
Race organizer Doug Yoder said that past indoor marathons have helped raise about $3,000 annually and LaCasa has used it for seed money for its Help-A-House program in May.
GC employee Eddie Mayorga is having a Habitat for Humanity house being constructed in Goshen so that organization was added this year.
Yoder said the indoor marathons began with mostly local runners, but about three quarters now come from outside the area, including those from as far away as California, Texas and Florida.
“We are getting a lot of local recognition by people,” said Yoder. “Someone spotted one of our marathon shirts in Hawaii.
“People are always amazed at the Goshen/Elkhart area with our restaurants and other things.”
The Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon is a unique event. Yoder knows of only four or five indoor marathons in the U.S. Many of the entrants are members of the 50-state marathon club or the Marathon Maniacs. Yoder, who has run about 60 marathons lifetime, has joined the latter group.
Yoder added a third race at Goshen from waiting-list runners. The two morning races filled up by the first week of November. He expects to have about 35 entries in each of the two morning races — many of whom will run in both races — and about a dozen in the Saturday afternoon event.
For the first time, Yoder plans to run in both morning races and will take pledges for every mile over the marathon distance and in the six-hour time limit. The GC track and cross country coach has run as many as 38 at a stretch.
“I just try to keep stepping it up one more notch,” said Yoder.
To keep the race, which is 204 laps over the marathon distance, from getting monotonous, the runners will switch directions every half hour. “It would be painful if you didn’t,” said Yoder. “But indoors, you are engaged all the time and can talk to other runners. It’s a huge distraction that makes it go a little bit easier. Outdoors, I have ran five miles and not had contact with people.”
Spectators are welcome each day and Yoder is still accepting sponsors. Email pledges to firstname.lastname@example.org.