Half-marathon to raise funds using trails

People are discovering more and more ways to enjoy the multi-use trails that crisscross our area.

When these long stripes of real estate were no longer needed by the railroads, different jurisdictions took advantage of the opportunity to pull the rails and convert them into paved paths for runners, bikers, skaters, walkers and more.

I was particularly pleased to learn about the Happy Half Trainers’ Half Marathon to be held on Aug. 10 that not only makes good use of these trails but, it is creatively set up, and a great way to make money for a good cause.

Only in its second year, this event makes use of local multi-use trails that connect Springfield and Yellow Springs.

The 13.1 mile course starts at Springfield High School on the Simon Kenton Trail that is managed by National Trail Parks and Recreation. Near the Clark County Public Library downtown, the Simon Kenton Trail connects to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which is managed by the Clark County Park District.

Then it runs south through Mad River Twp.

The race ends in Greene County in the village of Yellow Springs.

Race Directors Alex Loehrer and Patrick Dawson selected these three segments of connected trail because of excellent maintenance and the 3 percent down grade, which should make the route fast.

The scenery is diverse as it runs though city and suburbs, in addition to farm country and woods. It also crosses a few roads that won’t be closed that day.

According to Loehrer, participants will need to exercise caution as they do anytime they go out for a long run. Volunteers will help mark the route and point out traffic that won’t be stopping. Runners need to yield to traffic on this training race.

“This is the perfect race at the perfect time for someone who is training for a marathon this fall,” said Loehrer, who explained that Aug. 10 is around the time that the runners should be running 13.1 miles in their training schedule.

Starting a race in one place and ending it in another, known as point to point, creates some unique problems. I mean, where do you park and how do you get back to your car?

Shuttle buses and a key check will hopefully make that all go smoothly.

The 7:30 a.m. start will make the most of the coolest time of the day but there will still be water stations to help runners stay hydrated.

After all, it is August!

Because of time and distance restrictions, this race is set up for runners only. However, there is nothing keeping walkers from enjoying this course on a different day by themselves or with a group of friends.

That is the beauty of this trail system that is open 365 days a year.

New Imagine Eye Center is the signature sponsor of the race. Volunteers and additional sponsors are also being sought.

Last year the race had more than 150 participants and raised more than $3,500 for the American Cancer Society. Organizers are hoping to more than double the number of participants this year and do even more to fight cancer.

Loehrer is particularly happy about this year’s finisher’s medal.

“It is a unique, one-of a kind, medal,” said Loehrer. Each has a child’s drawing of Mike Maloney, a friend of the organizers, who passed away last year after his own fight with cancer.

The medal was designed by Springfield glass artist, and cancer survivor, Doug Frates. Each three-inch wide glass medallion will be hand-made and unique.

According to the website, these medallions will be available to all participants who register online.

Registration and more information can be found at www.happyhalfmarathon.com.

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