As of Monday, 173 runners and walkers had pre-registered for the seventh annual Weston 5K Run and Wellness Walk, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Thirty-four of those registrants are students from the Lewis County School system, who received a "scholarship" to attend the walk. Organizers of the event sold advertising space on the back of the race shirts to pay for the students this year. Participants can register the day of the race.
"We are very, very happy that so many students took advantage of this special deal," said co-organizer Mary Hendricks of St. Patrick Church. "It occurred to us while we were organizing this year that if a family with three or four children decided to participate, it would be quite a bit of money in registration. So we thought that the scholarship would be a good service for our community. It has paid off."
The race will begin at the corner of Center Avenue and East Second Street, in Weston. John Weber, of Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, will lead the racers on his bike, while members of the Lewis County Emergency Squad will bring up the rear of the racers with the sweep. Again this year, racers are invited to bring their canine companion to accompany them on the walk. The only request is that the dog be well behaved and good with people.
After the first race, there will be a Wee Run for Wee Ones that will run the East Second Street block from Court Avenue to Center Avenue. There are 10 children registered for that race.
There are nine age categories for the race. Top finishers in each age category - men and women - will receive medals. The top three finishers in the race will receive cash prizes. The top men's finisher usually ends up the race in about 15 minutes. The last of the racers usually take about 50 minutes to finish.
Organizers first created the race in 2008 as a way to encourage residents to become healthier by walking or running. One of those first participants was Jamie Summerlin, of Braxton County, who ran across the country in 2012. Jamie served in the U.S. Marine Corps. His 3,452 mile, 100-day run began in Oregon and ended in Delaware. He recently told Weston Race organizers that the first run that he brought his family to was the first Weston 5K in 2008.
"I had run in races before," Summerlin said, "but this was the first one with my family in tow."
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, the city of Weston and Saint Patrick Church organize the annual event. Corporate sponsors include WDTV Channel 5, WOTR, Theresa Snaith Hospital Auxiliary, Mike Romano, SJMH Physical Therapy Department, McCartney's, Auto Roundup and Lewis County Printing.
Some people have asked where the registration money goes. In reality, the cost for registration is as low as possible.
"I don't think people realize that we do not do this as a fundraiser. We just want to encourage healthy lifestyles so we really don't make much money. The long-sleeve shirts cost close to $9 and the chips for the runners cost about $3 each. So when we are only charging $12 for a registration, you can see that we don't make too much extra money," said Julia Spelsberg, race coordinator from the city of Weston.
Weston and Lewis County residents are advised there will be some closures of streets in town during the race. All of Court Avenue from First Street to Seventh Street, as well as part of North River (one lane) will be closed.