In only its second year, Clarksburg Area Racing Series is making a name for itself.
After four races, there has been a significant increase in participants in three of the events.
"And they're not just up a few numbers," CARS director Dave Weekley said. "They're up as much as double digits in percentages."
Race participation is not the only increase. Weekley said 157 runners have signed up for the series.
The series was reduced to 10 runs this year, after having 11 last year. The races are better spaced through the season.
"We asked some of the events to move dates so we wouldn't have conflicts," Weekley said.
In order to qualify for the series title, a competitor needs to run at least five races. That requirement also gave CARS incentive to better space its races this year, according to Weekley.
"Some of the events were close together, and if someone went on vacation or a business trip for a couple of weeks, they'd miss two or three races," he said. "Now they have a better chance of completing the series."
Heading into next week's West Virginia Italian Festival 5K at Eastpointe, Grafton teen-agers John Riffle and Scott Gemberling lead the men's division.
Morgantown's Robin Stone leads the women's division.
"The quality of competition is well above last year's," Weekley said.
And so far, Weekley is not surprised by the early leaders.
Fayetteville's Larry Taylor, who won the men's division last year, has only participated in two events. He has been pushed by Nitro's Mike Guinn, who did not qualify for the series title last year because he did not run enough races, according to Weekley.
The rest of the CARS schedule is: Benedum Festival 5K, July 15; Greater Clarksburg 10K, July 29; Blackberry Festival 5K, Aug. 5; United Way Kickoff 5K, Sept. 10; and Apple Butter Festival 5K.
Assistant sports editor Danny Carpenter can be reached at 626-1444.