Twice-canceled Sam Costa race to return March 26 in Carmel


Race Director Terry Townsend has a motto for this year’s Sam Costa race.

“It’s the 51st anniversary, three years in the making and worth the wait,” Townsend said.

The 51st Annual Sam Costa half- and quarter-marathons are set for March 26 at Northview Church, 12900 Hazel Dell Pkwy., Carmel. The 2020 and 2021 races were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The race is presented by Indy Runners and Walkers.

The half-marathon starts at 9 a.m. The quarter-marathon, which launched in 2006, begins at 9:10 a.m.

Townsend has only run the race twice.

CIC COM 0308 Sam Costa Townsend

“That was back in the 1980s, and that’s when they asked me if I would be a director,” Townsend said. “I had no idea this would be a lifetime gig.”

Costa, a detective with the Chicago Police Dept., was a runner who had friends in central Indiana. They would run in a race called the Central Indiana Striders Half Marathon. When Costa died from cancer, the race was renamed the Sam Costa Half Marathon.

“I’m a sucker for those kinds of stories,” Townsend said. “I think it’s valuable that it is the oldest race in Indiana. People love it. People come from all over the U.S. We typically have 12 to 14 states represented. We’ll have about 1,000 runners.”

This is the 47th year the race will be held in Carmel. It was at Clay Middle School until 2004 and held one year at Cherry Tree Elementary School before moving to Northview in 2006.

“We do everything we can to make sure it’s a good experience for everyone,” Townsend said.

Both of the courses are new.

“The courses used to run up to Noblesville up to 160th Street,” Townsend said. “My wife and I are cyclists, and we ride the course. We got back to Northview, and I said, ‘We can’t do this anymore, there’s too much traffic. It’s too noisy. We’ve got to do better.’ The entire course now is within the confines of Carmel. We don’t even go to 146th Street. The new courses are going to be safer and easier to manage. They’re going to be prettier.”

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