FULTON, Md. (WJZ)–It’s one of the biggest events of the year for Baltimore area runners, and it happens on Saturday morning. It’s the annual Maryland Half Marathon.

Ron Matz reports there’s something new this year and its all for a good cause.

About 2,000 runners are expected for this year’s Maryland Half Marathon at the Maple Lawn Community in Howard County.

The race was founded six years ago by friends Jon Sevel and Michael Greenebaum.

“It’s actually very humbling,” said Sevel. “Mike and I came up with the idea for this race during a 10-mile training run. It’s grown from this idea he and I had just sitting in his backyard one day to this race that attracts 2,000 runners every year and has raised over $1.5 million in the last five years for the Greenebaum Cancer Center.”

WJZ’s Mark Viviano will be the emcee. In five years, the race has raised $1.5 million for  the Greenebaum Cancer Center, now one of the top research centers in the country.

“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 24 years ago. She’s doing great. I’m just really pleased that she’s around to watch how the cancer center has grown over the years. All the money the runners raise goes to cancer research,” Greenebaum said.

“When I’m standing up there and talking to the crowd and the gun goes off to start the race, there’s a well of emotion. It’s so gratifying to know all the work we’ve done over the last year has paid off. It’s an amazing thing,” Sevel said.

There’s something new for runners at the Maryland Half Marathon this year: a 5K.

“We decided this year we’re also going to have a 5K component,” Sevel said. “The 5K is a much more doable distance for a lot of runners. This year was a very tough winter and a lot of people didn’t have time to get out and train for a half marathon. With the 5K we can bring more people in. We can bring walkers in, and it’s all about getting more people down there.”

And not just people. Dozer will be there, too. The golden doodle got on to the course three years ago. Now he’s the star of a children’s book and runs and raises money every year.

“One of the goals of this race is to promote the Greenebaum Cancer Center. We want to let people know this is a top-ranked cancer center. It’s NCI-designated. We’re top tier,” Greenebaum said.

Saturday morning’s race begins at 8 a.m.

“Bring your family. We have a whole festival. There’s lots to do. We have the 5K this year. We have a kids fun run. All we need is great weather,” Greenebaum said.

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