Savannah marathon on tap today



SAVANNAH, Ga. — Dr. Elizabeth “Doll” Miller knows no bounds when seeking a thrill.

She ran 60 miles on her 60th birthday in October 2010. This year, she celebrated by bungee-jumping off the 855-foot Stratosphere observation tower in Las Vegas.

Next April, the Savannah ophthalmologist is planning a little hike up Mount Everest.

Still, what’s happening this morning in Savannah has got her pumped. Miller, who has more than 50 marathons under her belt, is running in her first Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon.

“I’m excited because it’s in Savannah,” said Miller, 61. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people who normally wouldn’t visit our city, and it’s such a positive way to see it. We’ve had marathons in Savannah before, but nothing of this magnitude.”

The numbers are impressive, including a total of 23,000 official entrants in the full and half marathons, an army of 2,000 volunteers and 338,000 paper cups for runners to drink from during the event.

The series, which started in 1998 in San Diego, has 18 dates in 2011 with Savannah on a schedule with major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas.

“It’s a destination event,” said Dan Cruz, spokesperson for race organizer The Competitor Group Inc. “People combine their passion with their vacation. Savannah is a city people want to visit.”

While local officials’ early projections had the inaugural event attracting perhaps 15,000 runners, organizers had to cap the field at 23,000 – and that was more than two months ago. Cruz said that limitations such as available hotel rooms and airline flights were factors.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Bill Briggs, 81, a member of the Savannah Striders running club. “It’s a marriage of the love of running and the love of Savannah. They’re fitting together like a puzzle. They seem made for each other. ... It’s a win-win situation.”