By Brad Fauber
Distance runners and fitness enthusiasts have another date to mark on their calendars this year, as the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department has scheduled the first Battlefield Half Marathon this fall.
The 13.1-mile race, which will begin and end at the Kernstown Battlfield on Nov. 8, joins the handful of shorter 5K events put on by the FCPRD and is the first such race to be held in the area, according to FCPRD program supervisor Andrew Keefauver.
"Running is big in this community and the nation ... so for us to provide health and wellness to our area is what we're striving for," Keefauver said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
"The half marathon is a distance that is growing in popularity," he added.
The Battlefield Half Marathon will start and end on the Creekside property located within the Kernstown Battlefield and will make a loop through Kernstown along Middle Road, Apple Valley Road, Shady Elm Road, Spring Dale Road and Germany Road. The FCPRD's website describes the course as "semi-flat" with "great views of the orchards and the mountains of Frederick County."
The course will also include through traffic on the road portion of the race, and Keefauver said the FCPRD has consulted with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, which plans to ensure runner safety by blocking certain intersections and providing vehicle escorts for competitors.
Keefauver said the FCPRD has partnered with Shenandoah Valley Runners and Runners' Retreat and he hopes to have around 300 competitors in the inaugural event, although he said it's reasonable to expect an even higher total.
"What we're trying to do is basically draw people from out of the area to the more rural, scenic courses," Keefauver said.
In addition to the traditional half-marathon race, which begins at 8 a.m., Keefauver said the event will also consist of a half-marathon relay in an effort to provide a fresh take on the half marathon experience. Keefauver said the relay race -- which consists of teams of four runners each -- provides participants who aren't interested in running longer distances with the chance to run a race that closely resembles a standard 5K event.
Both the half marathon and the relay are open to participants of ages 15 and older.
A two-mile cross country run for children 8 to 14 years old will also be held following the main race at 11:30 a.m. on the battlefield, and Keefauver said some post-race activities are also in the works.
"We're also in talks to potentially even provide a festival atmosphere with maybe a band, a moon bounce for the kids ... and shops for people when the race is completed," he said.
Registration for the race is currently open online at the FCPRD's website. The fee is $55 per person for the half marathon, $80 per team for the relay and $20 per participant for the kids' race. Keefauver said those fees will begin to increase in early October.
All of the proceeds from the event will go to the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), a foundation that provides food and shelter to the homeless.
Keefauver said prizes of $1,000 will be awarded to the top male and female finishers in the half marathon, with second and third place winning $750 and $500, respectively.
A health and wellness expo will be held at the Body Renew Fitness and Family Sports Center (formerly known as the Sportsplex) in Kernstown a day prior to the race on Nov. 7. The one-day event is open to the public.
For more information about the Battlefield Half Marathon or to register for the event, visit http://www.co.frederick.va.us.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD