With the calendar flipping to February, now is the perfect time to start training for the 24th annual Journeys Marathon scheduled for Saturday, May 9, with one major change — no full marathon.
Journeys will be taking place again this year except the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center will not be hosting the full mara­thon, according to chamber Executive Director Kim Emerson.
However, the chamber will still have the half-marathon, 13.1-mile power walk, and 10- and 5-kilometer races. 
“We have seen a decline in participation numbers for the full marathon over the last several years and with all of the logistics that it takes to put the full marathon together, we have decided to pull the full marathon from our race offerings,” said Emerson.
Last year there were a total of 592 participants in the five Journeys Marathon events, but just 51 in the full 26.2-mile marathon from near Boulder Junction to Eagle River. Emerson said with the four events that will remain, the chamber could still register more than 500 participants.
One of the problems of having a full marathon in early May is that the outdoor training season for the runners is short. But that doesn’t mean that runners can’t register and start training for the 2020 events.
 “Now is the perfect time to be training and signing up to participate,” said Emerson. “Registration brochures are now available and entries are starting to arrive at our office.”
Emerson said Journeys Marathon still offers something for everyone — competitively and noncompetitively. The event kicks off at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River on Friday night, May 8, with race registration/packet pickup from 5 to 9 p.m.
Then on May 9, the half-marathon and power walk start at 9:30 a.m. on Highway K west of Conover. The 10K and 5K begin at 10 a.m. at the park.
There will be a Party in the Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Riverview Park, where spectators can watch the finishers cross the finish line. An awards ceremony will follow in the park at 2 p.m., when runners can tell about their accomplishments and share their race-day stories. There will be music by The Chillbillys, food and beverages, plus door prizes.
Those wanting to train without heading outdoors can always run in the Northland Pines High School field house, which features a 200-meter indoor track. People can call the school at (715) 479-4473 for times when the field house is open to the public for running and walking.
For more information about Journeys Marathon or to register, call Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center at 1-(800) 359-6315 or visit the official Journeys Marathon website at journeys­marathon.org.