Runners to endure weather in Mid-Winter Classic

Amanda Wilkinson, Staff Reporter

Whether it is 65 degrees and sunny or there is a blizzard out, runners plan to be at the starting line for the Charleston Challenge, the Mid-Winter Classic on Feb. 7.

The winter run features three races including a 5K, 10K, and a15K race for runners of any distance. Registration is available on the Charleston Challenge website. Runners may also register on the day of the race from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. for $25. The packet pick-up will be from 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

The 15K race will start at 10 a.m., the 10K race will start at 10:15 a.m., and the 5K will start at 10:30 a.m.

Chili and other refreshments will be served at 10:45 a.m., and the awards ceremony and raffle will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Diane Ratliff, the tourism and special events supervisor at the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department, said the weather is unpredictable, so running conditions will not be the same every year.

“Our slogan for the race is ‘shorts, snow, you never know,’” Ratliff said.

Despite the unpredictability of the weather, Ratliff still sees about 100 runners come out every year for the three races that start at Carl Sandburg Elementary School, 1924 Reynolds Dr.

So far, about 85 runners have pre-registered. Many runners will still register the day of the race.

Ratliff said she had the most people register the same day of the race in 2011.

“I was blown away by that,” she said.

That day, one inch of snow was predicted. By the end of the race, eight inches of snow had fallen, Ratliff said.

“Apparently a lot of people like to run in the snow. They came out that day and proved that point to me,” she said.

To reduce hazardous running conditions, the county and town waited until the runners passed by before plowing the snow on those roads.

“I think we have a mix of people. Some of them like snow, some of them don’t necessarily like the snow. They definitely prefer snow to ice,” she said.

While participation may be higher for snow, distance is also a factor.

Ratliff said she sees more runners in the 5K and 15K races more than in the 10K race.

“They tend to go high or low in the races,” she said.

The three races not only bring out runners of varying running distances but also from different areas.

“I know we have several from out-of-state as well as central Illinois and Indiana,” Ratliff said.

She credits much of the participation from people training for the Champaign marathon in the spring.

Even though Ratliff is not sure what the weather will be like on the day of the race, she said she knows she will see runners ready to race in the snow, ice or rain.

Amanda Wilkinson can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].