2013 Bluegrass Half Marathon to benefit Niswonger Children's Hospital


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The fourth-annual Bluegrass Half Marathon is set for Sept. 22, presented by Mountain States Foundation as a benefit for Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

 The event starts and finishes at The Millennium Centre near East Tennessee State University and last year had more than 700 finishers, counting individual and relay team participants. Start time is 7:30 a.m. There’s also a Kids’ Run and Walk ‘N’ Roll on Saturday, Sept. 21.

 “The Bluegrass Half Marathon was already a great event with a great course, and now it’s become a benefit for Niswonger Children’s Hospital so we’ve added this great cause,” said Cookie McKinney, manager for Children’s Initiatives at Mountain States Foundation.

 The race has earned a reputation as a fun experience, with live bluegrass music before, during and after the race provided by the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Department. There will also be vendors, refreshments and awards following the race.

 This year organizers have added a 5K walk on race day as well as a pre-race pasta dinner the night before the race, from 5-7 p.m., with Olympian Julie Culley as the featured speaker. Cost is $25 for the dinner.

 Culley was the U.S. Olympic Trials 5,000-meter champion in 2012, running a 15:13. In the qualifying heat at the London Olympics she clocked a 15:05, and in the final took 14th place. She was also the 5K Road Race U.S. champion for 2011.

 “This is not your typical pasta dinner,” said Sarah Poret, race coordinator. “We’ll have salad, drinks, dinner and dessert, prepared by Millennium Centre Master Chef Jean-Claude Seruga, with different sauces and toppings and even gluten-free pasta. It’s a step above your usual pasta dinner. Participants will have the opportunity to get running tips and questions answered by a world-class, Olympic runner. And since it’s a fundraiser, it’s all for a good cause."

 The pasta dinner is open to the public as well as those entered in the race. That and the 5K walk are two new ways the community can participate in the Bluegrass Half Marathon festivities even if they don’t want to run 13.1 miles.

 People can also register in the half marathon as part of a relay team in family, corporate or open categories. Relay teams must consist of four people, at least one of them female, and they’ll pass the baton at 3.5, 6.5 and 9.5 miles.

 The course includes ETSU, the Veterans’ Administration campus, Niswonger Children's Hospital, the Tree Streets Neighborhood, downtown Johnson City and a stretch that passes by Pine Oaks Golf Course.

 The Niswonger Children’s Hospital Kids’ Run set for Sept. 21 at 9:30 a.m. is perfect for children ages 5-12, and for those even younger, there’s the family-friendly Walk ’n’ Roll at University School on the ETSU campus.

 The Kids’ Run is a 1.1-mile run that completes a 13.1-mile half marathon distance for kids and family members who’ve logged (walked or run) the previous 12 miles over the previous weeks. Visit www.msha.com/kidsrun for more information.

 Registration is $5, and kids will receive a runner’s bib, t-shirt and participation medal.

 Register for the half marathon at www.BluegrassHalfMarathon.com by Thursday, Sept. 19. Packet pickup and a vendor expo are at The Millennium Centre across from ETSU on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 1-6 p.m. Register by Sept. 7 to guarantee shirt size. There will be no race-day registration or packet pick-up.

 Registration is $25 for the 5K walk, $50 for the Half Marathon and $30 per person on a relay team if registered by Sept. 15. After that, costs are $30 for the 5K walk, $60 for the half marathon and $35 per relay team member until registration closes on Sept. 21.

 Sponsors include CrestPoint Health, Holston Distributing, Earth Fare, Foot Rx, The Millennium Centre and WCYB.

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