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Long Island Marathon to be in-person in September

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Long Island’s most anticipated running event is coming back this year with a new course — again.

The 2021 Jovia Long Island Marathon and all of its accompanying racing events will return to Eisenhower Park in East Meadow this Sept. 17 and 18. While the event is typically held in May, Nassau County decided to host it five months later to allow more time to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we continue to make significant progress in the fight against Covid-19, we’ve been able to allow some smaller races — with up to 300 participants — to come to our parks through the fall and winter,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran at a news conference on Feb. 25, where she made the announcement.

Curran explained that the county has been able to host such races by following safety and social distancing protocols like introducing staggered start times and contactless check-ins, checking athletes’ temperatures and limiting the number of spectators.

Because the Long Island Marathon draws a much bigger crowd, attracting 5,000 people in 2019, the county agreed to hold the event in September “because we expect to have more vaccines . . . and that will mean more immunity in our community so we could get more participation,” Curran said.

For the second year, the race will be directed by Baldwin-based company Race Awesome, which is run by Corey Roberts and his wife Stacey.

“At the end of the day, the realization is that it’s not just about producing a race,” Roberts said at the news conference on Feb. 25. “There are so many services that Nassau County provides to the race to make it happen, especially from our health department.”

Past events have had roughly 12 medical tents along the route, all of which were provided by the county’s health department.

“The health department right now really needs to focus on vaccinations,” Roberts added. “With that, we really took the time to think about how we can do this and do it safely with Nassau County.”

When Race Awesome took the reigns to direct the 2019 marathon, it unveiled a new course that shut down parts of Merrick Avenue and Wantagh Parkway.

With the event in September, Roberts said that he was reluctant to follow the same route and risk impacting the crowds heading to Jones Beach for their last beach trips of the summer.

The 47th marathon will feature a two-lap course that keeps runners in Eisenhower Park for more of the event and then sends them through Mitchell Field, Museum Row and along the some of the pedestrian and bike lanes the county installed in 2020.

“It will have less an impact on communities and downtown areas than previous years, while delivering athletes a full-distance marathon with a two-lap course,” Curran said.

Roberts added that having a more condensed course could allow runners more opportunities to compete alongside each other and could give spectators a better chance to see runners.

The marathon will remain a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon. Everyone who registered for the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be automatically registered again for the 2021 event in September. Those who haven’t registered yet could do so starting on March 15 at www.runlongislandmarathon.com.