At the starting line for last year’s Mississippi Blues Marathon, the temperature was 17°. But John Noblin says ‘warm and fuzzy’ was the feeling he believes participants left with on that frigid day. The Jackson born businessman is the owner and race director for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield sponsored event that runs through the capital city – and Fondren – on January 8. Noblin, a runner himself, says the overwhelming majority of comments posted about his race to MarathonGuide.com cite the friendliness and polish of the event. That, he says, goes a long way for registrations, a number he tells us is up “about 10-15%” so far this year. With runners coming in from 43 states and 6 foreign countries at press time, the idea is to create more than just a race. Noblin says the event itself with music, food, and a race expo at the Jackson Convention Complex, is the draw. And, of course, the challenging, well planned course.
When asked of the choice to move the start of the race from Fondren to downtown, Noblin says it was simply a logistical decision. “Out of town participants wanted a car-free weekend,” he told us, saying the availability of hotel rooms was much greater downtown. But that doesn’t mean the marathon spirit won’t be felt here. Noblin says a conscious decision was made to include Fondren as a major part of the course. “Woodland Hills, State, Old Canton, sure, we left those and added in even more to make up for the eliminated Rankin County portions of the route.” And Noblin says, as in years past, spectators and volunteers are key. “One year, we had taken down the finish line. It was well past time for the runners to come in. And one lady, still on the course, made her way in. It was Fondren – and the people here – who cheered her all the way to the finish line.”