Volunteers assist during the Mississippi Blues Marathon. Image: MS Blues Marathon

The annual Mississippi Blues Marathon, presented by Continental Tire, runs through Jackson January 27. So far, runners from 47 states and seven countries have registered.

What’s new for the annual race – beyond the title sponsor?

Organizers have added a 5k this year in hopes to get new runners, walkers, and everyone who just likes to keep their distance a little shorter. 5k runners will get the same great swag packet as the other distances, as well as a new 5k finisher’s medal.

2018 will be the eleventh year of the Mississippi Blues Marathon, Mississippi’s premier running event that has attracted runners from all 50 states and more than 15 countries. The Mississippi Blues Marathon events include a marathon, half-marathon, quarter marathon and marathon team relay.

The race is also seeking volunteers to greet and assist runners at the Marathon Expo on Thursday and Friday, January 25 and 26, at the Downtown Marriott, and to serve as course marshals for the race on Saturday, January 27, helping to direct runners around the course and manage light traffic control on less busy parts of the course.

Blues Marathon Race Director John Noblin said it takes about 900 volunteers to meet all of the needs for an event like this.

“Every year we have a lot of repeat volunteers but everyone had a ‘first time’ and we’ve always gotten rave reviews, so even the first-timers must do a great job,” Noblin, who began the race in 2008 in Fondren, said. “All you need is a good attitude, and maybe a warm coat.”

Group opportunities to volunteer as aid station teams, handing out water and Gatorade to runners, are also available. Aid station teams must have a minimum of ten members.

Those unfamiliar with the world of distance racing need not shy away. These jobs aren’t about technical know-how. “We are the Hospitality State, and our volunteers just seem to naturally portray that, making them inherently successful and great supporters,” volunteer coordinator Dawn Macke said.

The event uses an online system to register, allowing volunteers to select the specific time and location they would like to work. All volunteers will receive a souvenir Mississippi Blues Marathon “Road Crew” t-shirt. For more information or to register as a volunteer, go to msbluesmarathon.com and click the “Volunteer” link, or e-mail volunteer@msbluesmarathon.com for more information.

Organizers recently announced that Continental Tire, the Americas, has signed on to serve as presenting sponsor of the event.

Noblin stated, “We are really excited to have Continental Tire on board as our presenting sponsor. Their support not only means this event, which means so much to this city and state, can continue, but also that Continental is serious about being a respected corporate and community citizen in both Mississippi and the Jackson area. And the reputation of the Continental Tire brand worldwide will be great for the continued growth of the Blues Marathon.”

“Continental is proud to sponsor the Mississippi Blues Marathon as part of our growing commitment to the state of Mississippi,” said Paul Williams, executive vice president of Continental’s Commercial Vehicle Tires division for the Americas. “As a company, we believe that mobility is paramount to the human experience, and what better way to showcase that than by supporting this premier running event.”

“Continental Tire is proving to be a good corporate partner to the state, before even opening its doors,” said Gov. Phil Bryant.  “Continental Tire is not only investing in the state’s economy but also in our people through its title sponsorship of the Mississippi Blues Marathon.”

Race registration on the race’s website, msbluesmarathon.com.

Mile 6.5- 11 of the marathon runs through Fondren. Miles 6-8 of the half marathon run through the neighborhood.