By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Runners and walkers from 13 states will compete Saturday in the 15th annual Beckley Half-Marathon, sponsored by the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce.
The 13-mile half-marathon, along with a 5K run and 5K walk, will begin at 8 a.m. in front of Mountain State University on South Kanawha Street.
The Half-Marathon competitors will head down Kanawha to Booth Street, turn onto Eisenhower Drive and then Brookshire where they will enter the East Beckley Bypass.
The course continues to the YMCA’s Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex, where runners will do two laps, and then continue on out the bypass to the Woodrow Wilson High School/ACT campus, lap it, then repeat the path circling into downtown and back. It will conclude behind MSU on Minnesota Avenue.
“It’s a redesign of the course, so we want people to be aware Saturday morning that the traffic patterns will be altered,” Chamber of Commerce spokesman Kip Buchanan said. “The streets (but not the bypass) will be closed at 7:45 a.m. City and county police will be at three intersections, and caution signs will be out.”
Registration and a pre-race dinner are from 6 to 7 p.m. today at the MSU Learning Resource Center on Kanawha Street. Registration will also be held there from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Saturday prior to the race.
Homer Hickam, author of “Rocket Boys” and representative of the weekend’s Rocket Boys/October Sky Festival, will greet the runners before the race and will officially start the event.
Approximately 140 people, at least 53 in the half-marathon, will compete.
There will be no cash prizes this year, but many trophies will be awarded.
“We took the prize money and put it into the new chip timing system,” Buchanan said. “For the first time, runners will have instant results.”
Last year’s Half-Marathon winners were Nick Lucento (1:21:38) and Maria Busienei (1:24:06). Buchanan was not certain Thursday if either would compete Saturday.
Nick Bias (18:01) and Kristen Roles (20:50) were the 5K winners last year. Mark Rooper (34:10) and Joyce Moore (42:35) were tops in the 5K walk.
The Beckley Half-Marathon is one of several big events this weekend, including Chili Night (Saturday evening), the Rocket Boys/October Festival (Friday-Sunday) at Tamarack and New River Park, and the Fastrak World Championships at Beckley Motorsports Park in Prosperity.
“This is a great community event,” Buchanan said. “A lot of people look forward to it, especially with Chili Night going on. Some people make it a family reunion.
“It’s a commitment to run 13 miles, so we hope people will come out and support the runners. But be cautious when driving.”
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