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Charleston Distance Run week is here; Saturday marks 44th edition

Runners break from the line in the 2010 Charleston Distance Run. Saturday marks the 44th edition of this capital city classic. (WCHS/WVAH)

Months of training will be put to the test this week as runners prepare to tackle heat, humidity and Capital Punishment Hill.

The 44th annual Charleston Distance Run is Saturday, Sept. 3, when hundreds of runners and walkers will take to the city’s streets for a classic race that has attracted some of the world’s best. Events begin at 7:30 a.m. on Kanawha Boulevard across from the West Virginia Capitol.

Competitors can choose between the challenging 15-miler; the three-person 15-mile relay; the 5K run and the 5K walk. All events finish at University of Charleston Stadium Laidley Field.

This year’s race features several special aspects. Runners will pay tribute to Joni Adams, a veteran runner and retired Kanawha County teacher who died in the June flood. Several Distance Run awards have been named in her honor. Her race number will be displayed at the Charleston Civic Center during the pre-race pasta dinner on Friday and her nephew, Caleb Adams, will wear her race No. 50 when he runs in the 15-miler.

Participants in the 15-miler can expect some fast company as among the competitors will be Clara Grandt Santucci, a two-time U.S. Olympic Trials marathoner, two-time winner of the Pittsburgh Marathon and former four-time All-America runner at West Virginia University.

Lots of Distance Run activities are planned this week. The free Children’s Fun Run is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday on Clendenin Street near the Charleston Town Center’s entrance. Registration is open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Civic Center Lobby. Kids can compete in the following age groups in these distances – 4-6 (one quarter mile); 7-9 (half mile); and 10-12 (half mile).

Registration for the Distance Run is 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Civic Center, where the pre-race pasta dinner will be served for all participants. Packet pickup also will be available for those who have registered.

The big featured event, the Distance Run, is 7:30 a.m. Saturday on Kanawha Boulevard at the state Capitol. Awards and free pizza will follow the race at Laidley Field.

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