Harrison County

After last year’s Coast marathon mishap, here’s what you need to know for the 2018 race

Dan Schneider of Minneapolis crosses the finish line of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon in Biloxi on Dec. 10, 2017.
Dan Schneider of Minneapolis crosses the finish line of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon in Biloxi on Dec. 10, 2017. Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

Organizers say what happened last year won’t happen again in 2018.

Thousands signed up for the second Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon, but many were frustrated when they learned the course was incorrectly measured and was short of 26.2 miles. The mishap meant some runners who thought they had qualified for the Boston Marathon in fact had not.

With registration opening this week for the third annual MGCM, organizers promise what happened in 2017 won’t happen again.

“We know what the issue was and how the problem occurred,” race director and founder Jonathan “Juba” Dziuba said. “We have addressed that process operationally and feel confident that will not be a mistake we repeat at any future event or race distance.”

Dziuba said the marathon route was measured and certified correctly, however, when it came time to set up the route he told a member of the operations team to use the second truss on Interstate 110 as a turnaround instead of the third.

“I was going by memory and made a mistake,” he told the Sun Herald in an email. “... We now always review the courses and turnarounds off our certification maps now regardless of familiarity of the courses.”

Dziuba said they used the same precautions at his Louisiana Marathon and Mardi Gras Mambo “despite those courses being unchanged and us being very familiar with them.”

He added: “We will always re-verify course marks as a team from now on.”

In an effort to rectify the mistake, organizers offered a couple of solutions, including discounted registration for the 2018 Louisiana Marathon, this year’s MGCM and the 2019 Louisiana Marathon if the offer was not used in 2018.

2018 marathon

Organizers tout the MGCM as a “Coastal Running Fest” that “celebrates the local flair and beauty of running along the scenic beaches from Pass Christian to Biloxi.

This year’s three-day schedule runs Dec. 7-9 and once again includes a full marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles), 5K (3.1 miles) and kids marathon (1.2-mile fun run).

This year’s race is again a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, according to organizers.

A Health & Wellness Expo will be held at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center in Biloxi on Dec. 7. The next day’s schedule includes the 5K and kids marathon, held at Point Cadet Plaza in Biloxi. There will also be a post-race party.

Sunday, Dec. 9, will mark the big day with the full marathon starting in Pass Christian and the half starting in Gulfport. Both races finish at the Biloxi Shuckers’ MGM Park.

Sunday will also include a Coors Light Finish Festival at MGM Park. The event will include barbecue and live music.

Dziuba said they have added to runner convenience this year with an improved shuttle plan and by dropping off race packets at a host hotel; within the registration process they also offer a “mail me my race packet” option this year.

Those “enhancements,” Dziuba said, “will make choosing this marathon weekend a no-brainer for many runners looking for a flat and fast course in December.”

Dziuba said 3,368 runners registered for the inaugural marathon in 2016, with 2,737 completing the course. Another 3,304 registered last year, with 2,492 finishing the competition.

Half and full marathon runners who register before Monday receive a free “In Training” shirt.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @PatrickOchs

Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

Friday, Dec. 7

  • The Expo at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center

Saturday, Dec. 8

  • Mississippi Gulf Coast 5K
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Kids Marathon
  • Coors Light Finish Festival
  • The Expo at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center

Sunday, Dec. 9

  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon and Half Marathon
  • Coors Light Finish Festival