Though it's been in the works, on and off, for nearly five years, the inaugural Charleston Marathon is almost a month from coming to fruition and the excitement, and anxiety, of organizers is starting to build.

Primarily the brainchild of Fox Music's Charles Fox and former Cooper River Bridge Run Assistant Race Director Howie Schomer, the event was conceived to raise money for Youth Endowment for the Arts, whose mission is to provide equitable, quality cultural arts experiences to Charleston area children via grants and curriculum-building.

The marathon will be part of the second annual Riverfront Race Festival, which also features a half marathon, 10K, 5K and bike rides, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. The marathon and half marathon will start in Charleston, but most of the course will be in North Charleston. The 10K and 5K will be held entirely in North Charleston. All four runs will be held Jan. 15. The bike rides of 60 and 30 miles will depart from the Charleston Maritime Center on Jan. 16.

With a month to go, the event will get an official boost at 12:30 p.m. Thursday when Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey are scheduled to announce the details of the race at the Military Magnet Academy, located at 2950 Carner Ave. in North Charleston. Charleston County School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley also is expected to attend in support of the event, which includes an innovative "youth marathon."

Nearly 500 youths ages 7 to 17 have been logging miles with the goal of reaching a total of 25 on Jan. 14, when at 4 p.m. they will run the final 1.2 miles of the Charleston Marathon course in North Charleston and get a marathon finisher's medal.

As of Monday night, 839 people had registered for the marathon, 1,290 for the half marathon, 215 for the 10K, 130 for the 5K and 108 for the bike rides, according to Pat Kelly, a volunteer with Charleston Marathon.

Fox and others are pleased not only with the interest in registering but by sponsors, which include T-Bonz Restaurant Group, South Carolina Electric & Gas and Roper St. Francis.

Charleston County School District Fine Arts Coordinator James Braunreuther said, "We are ecstatic about the response to this year's event. It helps bring awareness to the need for greater access to the arts for our students and the outstanding student performers that are a part of this event."

Jan. 14: The festival begins at the Navy Yard in North Charleston and includes a health and fitness expo, pre-race dinner, and the final 1.2 miles of a virtual youth marathon.

Jan 15: A 5K and 10K will start at the Navy Yard, while the half marathon (13.1 miles) and inaugural full marathon (26.2 miles) will start near the S.C. Aquarium, loop down to The Battery and take King Street to Meeting Street extension into North Charleston, where most of the course will be held. All races will have a common finish line at 10 Storehouse Row at the Navy Yard at Noisette.

After the races conclude, a shrimp and grits festival will feature The Blue Dogs and area student fine arts performance groups.

Jan. 16: The festival concludes with 30- and 60-mile bike rides that start and finishes at the Charleston Maritime Center.

For more, including the routes of each race and the bike rides, go to www.CharlestonMarathon.com