In It for the Long Haul: Running with a Cause

Four million dollars, and then some.

That’s how much the Mercedes Marathon has raised in support for local Birmingham charities.

A daddy’s promise to his ill little boy generated the creation of this race. You get through this surgery, and I’ll run a marathon for you, Paul Sotherland had said. The proposal: a heart-pounding 26.2 mile run if his son with Down syndrome pushed through a critical open-heart surgery. His son proved his endurance, and so did Paul. Inspired, the Mercedes Marathon took root and bloomed into the marathon for Birmingham.

Registration is now open for the 15th Anniversary Mercedes Marathon race weekend on February 12-14, 2016. Events include a superhero 5K, kids’ run, kids’ marathon, Mercedes marathon, Mercedes half-marathon, Mercedes marathon 5-person relay, and a health and fitness expo. Even better, events benefit the children at The Bell Center for Early Intervention Program , as well as other local charities.

If you’re more movie marathon than Boston marathon, don’t sweat it. (Yet.) The Regions Superhero 5K is a family friendly race that couch potatoes can walk or jog without growing sprouts from the effort. (But you will need to get off the couch…) This 3.1 mile course is open to all ages, and dressing as superheroes to help raise money is encouraged. Go, Batman, go!

Hopeful runners are already training in readiness for this huge racing weekend. While February 2016 may seem eons away, training for a marathon—which has a time limit of six hours—is not something to push to the bottom of the list. The Mercedes marathon is a qualifying race for the Boston marathon, after all.

Here’s a taste of reading material from the Arts/Literature/Sports department to motivate those feet, pump you up mile after mile, or simply intrigue you to try something you thought you never could do.


Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen


Boston: A Century of Running

Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom

Michael Johnson: Sprinter Deluxe


Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running: How to Fix Injuries, Stay Active, and Run Pain-Free

Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons

Chi Marathon: The Breakthrough Natural Running Program for a Pain-free Half Marathon and Marathon


Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing

The Barefoot Running Book: The Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running

The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running

For more information, visit the official Mercedes Marathon website. For a list of local races, from 5Ks to marathons, check out the Birmingham Track Club’s online calendar.

Bethany Mitchell
Arts/Literature/Sports Department
Central Library


Hope Cooper said…
You might want to take a look at "Couch Potato to 5K" as a way to get ready gradually. I need to do it. My neighbor has over this summer….lots great, feels great and has already done her first 5K ever.
BAM said…
Thanks Hope, that sounds like a great race to get started as well!

I wouldn't recommend doing what I did--skipping the 5K and going straight to the 10K. (I was already somewhat active.) I finished it and ended up having a good time with festivities afterward, but it's always best to start small. More rewarding!