The easy thing might have been just to skip the St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon and Half-Marathon again this year.
It was canceled in 2020 and had to be moved from April to Nov. 20 because of COVID-19. The 2022 edition is already scheduled for April 23.
Putting on the event last week was going the extra mile, or 26.2 miles in this case, and begs the question, why bother?
"It's just important to give our runners the opportunity not only to get back and do what they love but also this (is) our 21st year of running this event and this is a pillar of the Nashville community and what people come out and enjoy and participate in," said Drew Wolff, regional director of the Rock 'n' Roll Running Series, which owns the marathon. "To show that we're back was super important."
The event was scaled down. Instead of 30,000 runners like in recent years there were only 12,000, and not nearly as many spectators showed up. The finish line had to be moved farther away from Nissan Stadium and other tweaks were necessary because the Titans had a home game the following day.
But Wolff said the Titans organization and city officials were all for having the marathon even if it had to be fitted into an already crowded weekend.
"We had fantastic support from the city all around; everyone stepped up and said, 'How can we make this a success?'" Wolff said. "The Titans in partnership with Nissan Stadium were just as fantastic. They were all-in."
The last runners did not cross the finish line until late in the afternoon. That meant officials and volunteers had to work hard to break down the finish line, winner's podium, concert stages, sponsors' tents and medical area as quickly as possible in the Nissan Stadium parking lots so the Titans could start preparing for their game against the Houston Texans.
It was all worth it, Nashville Sports Council president and CEO Scott Ramsey said, in order to help the city recover some of the lost revenue it encountered when so many sporting events were canceled during the pandemic.
Along with the marathon, the 2020 TransPerfect Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium was canceled, the 2020 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena was canceled after the first round and the NASCAR Awards Show at Music City Center was canceled.
The marathon traditionally delivers an economic impact of more than $40 million annually to Nashville, according to the Nashville Sports Council.
"Quite honestly, after COVID, we look at the marathon as kind of an economic recovery event," Ramsey said. "It was a little less than the spring numbers but it still brought thousands of people to town. Anytime you can have an event like that it's worth doing. It also is a great fundraiser for a great charity in St. Jude; and it engages the community through volunteerism; and it's a great event from a health and wellness standpoint in messaging."
It will be a quick turnaround with the 2022 marathon taking place just five months later. Rock 'n' Roll Series officials realize the commitment to run in both events is significant and came up with the Heavy Medals program, which rewards runners who participate in both with special medals.
Cincinnati resident Will Cadwell, 20, who won the marathon, said he wasn't sure whether he would be able to make it back in 2022, but the top female finisher, Gisela Olalde, 36, from Nashville said she would return.
"I'll be back in the spring because I like running in warm weather better than the cold," said Olalde, who was the top female finisher in the half-marathon in 2013 and 2018. "I ran (Saturday) because I wanted to support the race, but it was rough on me. I look forward to it getting back to its normal time."
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: What the future holds for the Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon