For beginners and fitness buffs a like, there’s nothing like the spirit found at Charlottesville’s annual marathon and half marathon, held every April. Participants in Charlottesville’s longest annual race are able to run through a beautiful, historic city and view landmarks such as Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda in addition to Charlottesville’s famous wine country and historic local neighborhoods. The course both starts and finishes in historic Downtown Charlottesville at Court Square, and includes a section of flat running along the Riverview Park footpath! For less-experienced runners, the marathon organization also offers a half-marathon, an 8K, and a kids’ mile-long fun run. Non-runners can volunteer to hand out water and Gatorade to the runners, or they can attend a running and fitness expo, featuring food and face painting, while waiting for the marathon to finish. If family or friends wish to watch a runner in any of the races, spectator posts are built into the race course, and it is also broadcast live on local channels. Registration for the races is open for the majority of the year, but make sure to sign up early in order to take advantage of reduced registration fees. The marathon is USTAF certified, and can be used as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Awards are given to the overall winners and age group winners for the marathon, half-marathon, and the 8k, and all who complete the race receive a Finisher’s Medallion.