Although the event will be the first of its kind in Fort Dodge, the Hy-Vee half-marathon will continue an annual tradition of the store by raising funds to fight and find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
"We've been instrumental in helping with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for 11 years," said Ann Halbur, marketing coordinator at the Fort Dodge Hy-Vee store.
The March 31 event will kick off with an 8 a.m. welcome for marathon participants at the Hy-Vee store, 115 S. 29th St.
The 13.1 mile half marathon race will begin at 9 a.m. and proceed east to 32nd street where runners will access the path leading to the Fort Dodge Nature Trail.
The race will end at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park north of Fort Dodge.
In years past, the local store has held several events, including a walk to cure juvenile diabetes and celebrity bagging events where local business people, elected officials and other public figures bagged groceries in two-hour shifts with collection containers in their checkout lanes.
The the new fundraiser idea was brought up last summer when the store's dietitian, Amber Kastler recommended trying a half-marathon.
"Amber enjoys running," Halbur said. "She had us convinced it was something we could do in Fort Dodge."
With help from the Webster County Conservation Board, a course was created and the marathon event became a possibility for Fort Dodge.
"We are very grateful to so many people who have helped make this happen," said Halbur. It's been a huge undertaking for everyone but our conservation, police, Parks and Rec and Sheriff's Department have been wonderful to work with."
The half marathon has drawn running enthusiasts from seven states including Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Ohio, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.
For runners who may not want to run an entire 13.1 mile course, a 5k run/walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Kennedy Park. There will be a children's fun run from noon to 1 p.m. with various distances for ages 1-12 years old.
A variety of kids activities and entertainment will take place from 10 a.m. to noon and the activities will conclude with an awards presentation at 1:30 p.m. near the Bob Heun Shelter House.
"Everything we are doing will take place around Kennedy Park," said Halbur. "That is where everyone will end up."
Even if they are not runners, Halbur encourages the community to come out to the park the day of the event to cheer on the runners as they cross the finish line and to participate in activities and entertainment to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
"We've raised more than $130,000 in 11 years to help find a cure," said Halbur. "And it is all because we live in an awesome community of very generous people."
More than 75 people have registered for the 5k and more than 70 have signed up to run the half marathon. Registrations are being accepted through Saturday.
Entry fees are $70 for half marathon and $35 for the 5k. To register online, go to www.hy-vee.com/docs/Fort-Dodge_Event_Packet.
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org