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Anthem Richmond Marathon celebrating 40 years, saluting veterans as part of this year’s races

VCU Health is the title sponsor for the 8K.

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The Anthem Richmond Marathon will take place Saturday morning.

The Anthem Richmond Marathon turns 40 this year, and event organizers want the nearly 20,000 runners who are part of the annual competition to help them celebrate. This year’s finisher medals will have a 40th anniversary ruby-colored gemstone within. Additionally, one random marathon finisher will get an actual ruby to go along with their medal.  

“We thought this would be a good way to tie together the anniversary, and provide a keepsake for runners to celebrate their achievement,” said Pete Woody, public relations and communications manager for Sports Backers.

The marathon remains one of the top 25 races used by runners to quality for the Boston Marathon. The event features athletes of every skill level, and is known for its spirited cheering groups and party zones on race day. Since 1998, Sports Backers has planned the event, which is comprised of three separate races, the Anthem Richmond Marathon, the Markel Richmond Half Marathon, and the VCU Health 8K.

VCU Health is again the title sponsor for the 8K event and has committed to being a medical and 8K sponsor through 2020. VCU Health providers are also leading and manning the event’s medical team. Katherine Dec, M.D., a professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, is the event’s medical director. Jeffrey Ferguson, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, is the assistant marathon medical director. Medical personnel, including VCU Health physical therapists and athletic trainers, are strategically placed along the course, the finish line, and next to the post-race celebration to help when needed.

“We are prepared to take care of runners and fans for problems from scrapes and sprains to more serious injuries or illnesses,” Ferguson said. “The amazing interaction with Sports Backers and the city's public safety agencies make us comfortable that the team is ready to respond on race day.”

The VCU Health 8K begins at 7 a.m. The Markel Richmond Half Marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. And the Anthem Richmond Marathon begins at 7:45 a.m. Walk-up registration is available on race day. All three events end on a downhill slope with scenery of Brown’s Island and the Canal Walk on Richmond’s riverfront. The event is one of about a dozen organized by Sports Backers, as part of the nonprofit organization’s goal to encourage a healthy lifestyle and physical activity for all ages throughout the Greater Richmond area.

Dubbed “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” this year’s event is also commemorative.

In honor of race day also being Veteran’s Day, runners can get a “Running in Honor Of” race bib at the Virginia War Memorial booth at the Health and Fitness Expo from 5–9 p.m. on Nov. 9 or from 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Nov. 10 at the Arthur Ashe Center. Veterans participating in the three races can pick up their commemorative race bibs on those days, too. Each year, the Health and Fitness expo precedes the marathon and is a chance for runners to get their race materials, see the latest sports clinics and attend lectures. On race day, a flag display will be visible along the marathon course across from the Virginia War Memorial, and an active-duty military member will perform the national anthem.

“This event is a great celebration of Richmond’s active community and Sports Backers is excited to welcome participants from across the country and around the world,” Woody said. “This is an event that this community now looks forward to and VCU Health and all our sponsors are part of continuing to build that camaraderie and awareness around the importance of physical fitness.”