With participation numbers steadily increasing each year, Hardees-Benedum Festival 5K race organizer Darrell Moorhead expects a record-breaking number of runners to turn out for Saturday's race.
The event, which is in its fourth year, is expected to draw more than last year's turnout of 165 runners. Moorhead said he anticipates a field of 200-250.
"We're clearly ahead this year than what we've been in the past," Moorhead said. "We've got well over 100 runners preregistered and expect a pretty good turnout on race day.
"The first year we had the race we really didn't know what to expect, but now we've made some adjustments and know a little more about what we're doing."
The race drew 65 runners in its inaugural year and around 120 in its second.
The enthusiasm generated by the upcoming Greater Clarksburg 10K and the establishment of the Clarksburg Area Racing Series is a big part of why interest in the Benedum Festival 5K is on the rise Moorhead said, but this year the event won't be in direct competition with any other in the area.
In the past, the Benedum 5K and the Fairmont 5K were held on the same day. This year, however, the Fairmont 5K won't be held until July 22.
"That should help us get additional runners," Moorhead said. "Before, we sort of cannibalized each other. Both races were part of the CARS, but people were conflicted about which race to run in. That won't be a problem for either of us this year."
The race will start and end behind Bridgeport High School. Runners will go up Johnson Avenue to Philadelphia Ave. The course will then go to Virginia St., Center St., back to Pennsylvania to Olive St., and Worthington to Pearcy St., where there will be a water stop. From there the course goes to Stout St., back to Philadelphia and then back to the high school.
The race is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. Applications still can be obtained at the Benedum Civic Center in Bridgeport. Cost is $8 prior to the race and $10 on race day. The first 200 runners will receive T-shirts. Trophies will be awarded for first and second place, while ribbons will be given to third place finishers in each of the nine different age categories for men and women.
"This should be a course everyone can run," Moorhead said. "We've tried to eliminate as many of the steep hills as we could but it's always tough to do that in West Virginia.
"Being part of the CARS series sort of gives you an obligation to improve your race, and we feel like we've done that."
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444.