The biggest race in Rutherford County, the Murfreesboro Half Marathon, hits the road Saturday, Oct. 13, near downtown.
Children cheer on runners Oct. 16, 2011, during the annual Murph Fun Run in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (File photo)
Some of the best runners from 25 states will try to master the 13.1-mile course, which weaves around the city and the Middle Tennessee State University campus.
This is the sixth time this event will be held, and it comes when the city is celebrating its 200th birthday this year.
“October is the last month of the city's yearlong bicentennial celebration,” Race Director Melinda Tate said. “The medals this year have an inscription that recognizes the city’s anniversary.”
Since the beginning, the race has grown from 1,000 participates in 2007 to 2,500 this year.
This edition is no different.
The event sold out in a little more than six hours when registration opened in June.
“The sport of running has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, especially in the half marathon category,” Tate said.
The event has an unusual beginning back, six years ago.
“My husband, Miles, has been complaining about the lack of a half marathon in Middle Tennessee area for years,” Tate said. “Coming home from the Myrtle Beach Marathon six years ago, my daughter, Natalie, got tired of his complaining and told him she was going to start one.
“All the way home, we planned the race on the back of our hotel receipt. That one sheet of paper has turned into a notebook 4 inches thick.”
Tate said she believes there are several factors for why The Middle Half has become an important event for runners.
One of the them is the flat course that the runners will compete on Saturday morning.
“First-time, half marathon runners like The Middle Half, because it is not very hilly,” Tate said. “Experienced runners use the race as a training run for full marathons and to beat their personal record.”
As for the course, it will travel throughout the MTSU campus and around downtown Murfreesboro.
The race route goes down Main Street and Maney Avenue to the Oaklands Historic House Museum.
Then the runners will go around the Rutherford County Courthouse on the Square, run by MTSU’s Greek Row and finish inside the Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium.
“We always hope for great weather, no injuries and an enjoyable experience for all the participants and volunteers,” Tate said about the goals for this year’s event.
Downtown streets will be closed starting at 6:30 a.m. and reopen at 8:30 a.m.
Race officials advise all Murfreesboro residents to check the course map at the race website to avoid traffic delays before heading out that morning.
With that in mind, everyone involved in the race said they are ready to go with the final preparations.
“The banner on Main Street and the signs along the course go up a week in advance,” Tate said. “It seems like everywhere we go people are excited about running or volunteering at the event.”
The Middle Half starts at 6:55 a.m. with the wheelchair race.
All of the runners will start at 7 a.m.
Also, children ages 6 to 13 will take part in the one-mile Murph’s Fun Run, which begins after the start of The Middle Half.
According to race officials, there are still spots open for the children’s race.
However, it is limited to 250 participates.
For more information, including registration for the Fun Run, visit the themiddlehalf.com.
Officials said they hope for the same amount of community support this year, as they received in October 2011.
“Fans need to find a spot on the course, play some music, hold up signs, and cheer on the runners,” Tate said. “They love the encouragement.”