By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
For the fifth year, runners from throughout the country will start from the Washington square to complete a 13.1-mile course that will take them almost to West Chester and back.
The Kewash Half Marathon is slated to begin in front of the YMCA on the Square at 8 a.m. Organizer Michelle Driscoll reported as of Saturday almost 250 runners from seven different states have signed up to be part of the event. She said that many of the people coming from out of state have competed in previous years and are returning to run the half marathon again.
?It?s growing and getting bigger,? Organizer Shawn Loy said. ?All our proceeds go back into the community. Our profits this yea go to Girls on the Run.?
Girls on the Run is a North American nonprofit program that works to encourage preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, culminating in a celebratory 5k run. Loy said last year the Iowa chapter had close to 500 participants. The organization?s curricula seek to address all aspects of the girls? development to enhance their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.
Loy also said some of the proceeds go to the locally run program ?Let Me Run,? and the Washington baseball team.
Driscoll predicts April 21 will be a warm and beautiful day and said there would be cinnamon rolls at the end of the course. At the end of the event there will be entertainment and places for photographs taking free pictures of the runners. She said several local businesses will be supporting the race, including Washington County Public Health and the Washington County Hospital.
?it has really become a community event,? she said. ?We have a lot of big sponsors this year.?
Participants can sign up to run a 5k, a 10K or the complete half marathon. Runners loop through the downtown area and through Sunset park before hitting the Kewash Trail. There will be water stops and signs.
Loy said the event helps support the community.
?You are being healthy,? she said. ?Whether you run or walk, you are getting out there. it is a great way to be healthy.?
She said last year members of the Iowa professional running team had participated.
To sign up, people can go to the Facebook page listed as Washington Trail Half Marathon or the group?s website at http://getmeregistered.com/Kewash Trail Half Marathon. Forms are also available at the Washington Community YMCA. Registration also will be accepted the day of the event.
?We want to make this the premier running event in southeast Iowa,? Loy said. ?We are really excited about the people coming from everywhere.?