The competition doesn’t begin until Saturday, but already a record has been shattered with the 10th-annual Mayberry Half-Marathon, 5K and 10K: more runners than ever for the multi-faceted event.
“Currently, we have 484 participants registered for the three races,” its director, Darren Lewis, reported Monday.
“This is more than last year — that was our largest turnout so far,” said Lewis, who is assistant director of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, which stages the races to make ample use of the city’s greenway network.
“Our goal is 500 participants for this year.” In 2016, about 450 runners participated in the half-marathon, 10K or 5K races for the previous record turnout.
All three will begin Saturday in downtown Mount Airy, from the Main Oak Emporium site at 259 N. Main St. The half-marathon (13.1 miles) is scheduled to start at 8 a.m., the 10K race (6.2 miles) at 8:15 a.m. at the 5K (3.1 miles), 8:30 a.m.
“The races will begin on Main Street and will take a left on Pine Street and then a left on Riverside Drive into the park and will run an out and back on the greenway, finishing at the picnic shelter at Riverside (Park),” Lewis mentioned.
“This will be an extremely fast and flat course, as the majority of the race is on the greenway,” he added. “We are looking for some good times.”
That particular layout is in place for the second-straight year, which was made possible by the completion of a link for the city’s two greenways in mid-2016 — providing nearly seven continuous miles of paved trail space for runners.
“I do think people liked the course change,” Lewis said of the resulting flatter, faster setup. “The previous course was before we had the greenway connector — it was a lot tougher, with more hills.”
Along with the course change, Lewis believes the work of volunteers on Race Day and the presence of Go! Sports Timing and Events, an entity that chip-times the races, have produced a well-organized gathering that runners enjoy.
“I feel like we do a good job,” he said of various elements which send the message near and far that “Mount Airy is a good place to come and run.”
Runners attended last year’s Mayberry Half-Marathon, 5K and 10K from such states as Ohio and Florida.
Cash prizes are at stake Saturday for the top male and female overall winners. Awards will go to the top three finishers in each of nine age divisions: 10 and Under, 11-13, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus.
Mike Jones of Wytheville, Virginia, was best overall in last year’s half-marathon, with Joshua Reading of Salisbury taking 10K honors and Brian Ulrich of Jefferson finishing first overall in the 5K race.
The standard registration costs from now until Race Day are $35 for the 5K segment, $40 for the 10K and $50 for the half-marathon. For youths under 18, the price is $25 for all races.
Participants can sign up in advance at Reeves Community Center or online at http://mayberryhalf.itsyourrace.com.
Proceeds from the three-pronged event will go to Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, Lewis said, to help support its numerous programs.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.