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by Paul Leakan
(June 16)The inaugural running of the Greater Clarksburg 10K attracted athletes from all over the world.
Khalid Khannouchi, last year's winner, hails from Morocco. And of the top 20 finishers, eight are from Kenya, two are from Russia and one is from Zimbabwe.
This year's race is expected to match last year's diverse group of runners. The race's board of directors, however, plans on getting more participants from their own backyard. And they'll be looking at women and children first.
"Last year, we had 688 runners, but only 144 of those runners were women," said Larry Mazza, chairman of the race. "We know, to grow, we need to increase the female side of the race. We feel that with both male and females, we would be able to do educational things (to attract them)."
On Monday, Mazza presented the details of The Greater Clarksburg 10K Summer Seminar Series and an overview of this year's race to Clarksburg City Council.
The sessions offer free training clinics and health tips, which will help men and women shape up the right way before the race, Mazza said. The education should encourage more people into running, he said.
"We want to keep it a family event," Mazza said. "We want a lot of spectators to come out and watch. But we've added a couple of things to encourage women and family to be a part of this activity."
The Summer Seminar Series, which began on June 13 and 14 with "Shapewalk, Inc.," offers sessions on maximizing fitness training for runners.
The next session features Jeff and Mariann Foster's presentation of proper training techniques. The Fosters will teach techniques to improve running performance from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport on June 28.
Men and women won't be the only ones looking to hone their running skills, however. This year's race features "The Kids 10K," which allows children 12 and under to participate in their own race.
The kids' race is a special way of including more of the community in the race, Mazza said.
"All the kids will have No. 1 on their T-shirts," Mazza said. "They will get a prize at the finish line. And we'll provide lunch for them."
While race organizers want to increase women and children participation, they expect to have more than 1,000 participants.
Additional exposure, including 150 television commercials, 25 outdoor advertisements, 500 posters and coverage by Runners World magazine, should draw even more spectators and participants.
Of course, high profile runners, including 12 of the top 25 male and top 25 female runners in the world, won't hurt.
And the commitment from the race's board of directors is in place to make this a yearly world class event, according to Jim Hunt, city council member. The city sees the event as an investment in a bright future, he said.
"I don't know if last year's paid off dollar for dollar," Hunt said. "But if that race is around in five years, I think our benefit at that point is going to explode.
"If you went around to the average citizen and said: 10K, they would say that's the race that is held in Clarksburg. That's what we're buying."