Leaves falling from the trees, wind whipping in the air and the sounds of sneaker pads beating the ground make a symphony of music that will call to all runners near and far this Sunday. Their outlet will be the first annual Hokie Half Marathon and 5K on Sept. 15, organized by RunAbout Sports and the Running Club at Virginia Tech.
Over 1200 half-marathoners and almost 500 5Kers will start at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center at 7 on Sunday morning, running on roads, the Huckleberry Trail and various bike paths. Light refreshments will be available to participants every two miles, with the chorus of live music and cheering accompanying their run.
The organizer of the event and owner of RunAbout Sports, James DeMarco commented on how this race came into existence.
“Many different groups contacted me about doing various events, so we decided for everyone it would be nice to do a good race to bring all these groups together and have something big for Hokies to support.”
The preparations for this event have taken a lot of time on DeMarco’s part as well as all the organizations involved but have been mutually beneficial to both.
“The community has really been helping us out, and we’ve gotten great support from police rescue squads and about 350 volunteers from different charities. It’s great because the organizations are showcasing themselves and getting support while also helping us make this event a success."
The Virginia Tech community has also done its share in helping out with the race. The Corp of Cadets has about 70 volunteers, their color guard and a sorority on campus playing a role in this event. The President of the Running Club Luke LeVan also shared his organization’s role in advertising, participating and volunteering, as well as his expectations for Sunday.
"We’re not expecting it to be gigantic and mostly expecting to see runners and families, but the goal is to make this a big event for this region,” LeVan said.
Rob Grange, associate professor in human nutrition, foods, and excercise, shared his expertise for students new to distance running.
“I would suggest making sure to have an adequate amount of protein in the diet, carbohydrate loading before the race and eating a balanced diet," Grange said. "Also, join a running club for training or follow some program available on the web. The main thing is to prepare: don’t go in a week’s time and think you’ll be ready.”
For students such as junior English major Catherine Merritt, running preparation was not a foreign idea.
Merritt made sure she was prepared for the event by following the “Couch to 5K” work out plan, designed for distance running, as well as adjusting her diet and removing the processed and refined foods, both of which have resulted in giving her an advantage in her running. She was motivated to participate in the 5K because of her newfound enthusiasm for running.
“I decided to run the Hokie 5k because I wanted to be a part of the first Hokie Half Marathon and 5k," Merritt said. "I just got into running about a year ago and this is only my second 5k race. I'm really looking forward to prepping to run the half marathon next year.”
Students and faculty alike are excited about the event and what it has to offer.
“I’m really looking forward to the race, I think it will be a great way to connect with fellow Hokies and runners who all share the same passion about running,” Merritt said.
Awards will be given to all who finish the half marathon and money prizes of $500, $300 and $200 will go respectively to the first, second and third place winners. In addition, the top three runners in each age group will also receive awards for the Half Marathon and the 5K. Profits raised at the event are intended to go to local schools and charities as well as the VT Running Club.