The Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon and Four Mile at Kenyon is on track to attract a record number of runners and walkers on April 19.
Organizers expect registration to exceed the 500 people who typically sign up for the event, which is in its ninth year. Runners enjoy the top-notch Kenyon Athletic Center and the scenery while passing through campus and historic Gambier, said organizer John Hofferberth, associate professor of chemistry. Those taking the 13.1-mile path continue along the Kokosing Gap Trail.
Added three years ago, the four-mile race has grown annually and has attracted more people connected to Kenyon, with President Sean Decatur as a notable runner last year.
Many participants like to stick around the KAC afterward for the Earth Day Festival with live music, cooking and gardening demonstrations, farm animals to pet, and farm products for sale.
Alumni use the race as an occasion to return to campus, and parents visit to run with their sons or daughters. Former track and cross-country athletes add to the pool of runners, especially when the race happens the same weekend as the spring track and field invitational, like it does this year.
Runners also appreciate the race’s high-quality touches and strong support from volunteers from many community groups, Hofferberth said.
“Every year we hear glowing reports from participants about the quality of the course and the volunteers,” he said. “The participation of a diverse group of local organizations really gives the race a feeling of the local community coming together.”
Other amenities include a technical running shirt that wicks moisture, timing chips worn by runners, a post-race party catered by the local Tim Hortons and a sapling to take home to plant.
Race proceeds are used for community programs, including trail runs, cycling events, health activities and educational programming at the Brown Family Environmental Center.
The race begins April 19 at 8 a.m. outside the KAC. Registration is open through the day of the race. The half marathon costs $55 through April 1, $65 through April 19 and $30 for students. The four-mile race costs $25 through April 1, $30 through April 19 and $20 for students. Those who register by April 1 are guaranteed a shirt.
The first 50 local residents who register to walk the four-miler with Get Healthy Knox County will receive $5 off.