COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Red Nose Half Marathon made its way back to Columbus after a year hiatus due to COVID-19. The event was free to all participants and began and finished in downtown Columbus on the corner of 11th St. and Broadway St.

Carolee Luther, the Race Director and Porch Dog at Big Dog Fleet Feet, said the race has taken place for 15 years and had about 500 participants this year. She also said the event has stayed free over the years because it is Big Dog Fleet Feet’s way of giving back to the community.

“My favorite part is watching somebody succeed at a goal that they have set for themselves being a 5k, a half marathon or a marathon. Everybody has a goal and when I see them succeed it makes me happy for them,” said Luther.

Big Dog Fleet Feet hosts 13 races every year and assists other organizations like Columbus Roadrunners with different runs throughout the year.

Luther also said that the Red Nose Half Marathon is a very competitive race and gives runners and opportunity to compete next to their friends and family.

The first competitor to finish was 17-year-old Andrew McGinnis who completed the 13.1 miles in about 70 minutes. McGinnis is currently a senior at Calvary Christian School and is committed to run Cross Country Track and Field at Samford University next year.

“The goal coming in was to, on a certified course and race to run under the Georgia High School State Record which I believe was 1:10.49 and I believe I went like 1:10.32-33 so I think I got it by at least 15-20 seconds so that was the goal and I think I executed it pretty well,” said McGinnis.

McGinnis said he takes pride in knowing he can compete at such a competitive level as he goes into college.