By Samantha Hudson
“We just hope to have a good turnout for the Red Cross, we’re expecting 150 to a 180 runners,” said Sonny Sweet, former director of the Watauga County Red Cross. This is a larger turnout than last year’s 100 participants and double the number of its first year where there were 60.
The event takes place in Valle Crucis on Saturday, Sept. 15. The course begins at Valle Crucis Elementary School and weaves runners through the mountains. Medallions are awarded to all who complete the course and unique awards will be presented to the top three male and female finishers. Food and refreshments will be offered to runners when they are finished and support from family and friends is encouraged.
This year’s race will have an added benefit for participants. On top of supporting the Red Cross runners will be able to use their times in this race to qualify them for other, larger scale races.
“We try to enjoy it every year, but the main thing that’s going to build it up this year once word gets around is that we are now certified by the U.S. Track and Field Association,” Sweet said. “That means runners can use their times for official qualifications for the big marathons if they want too like Chicago, New York and Boston.” This added edge, they hope, will help bring in more participants.
“We’ve been recognized by the big boys,” Sweet said.
Participants can register at Valle Crucis School on Friday, Sept. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. and there is an option for race day registration from 6 to 7 a.m. Saturday morning. The marathon begins at 7 a.m. and the registration fee is $70, the half marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. and costs $50 to register.
Proceeds benefit the Watauga County chapter of the American Red Cross. More information is available at www.run4thered.com.