From staff reports
Participation has rebounded for the third annual Mother Road Marathon, set for Sunday.
More than 670 runners had signed up as of Tuesday morning, said Patrick Tuttle, executive director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We’re shooting for 800,” he said. “Last year, we had 641. Both the marathon and the half-marathon are up this year.”
Registration ends at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The marathon, promoted as the only one along historic Route 66, starts in Commerce, Okla., crosses into Kansas and ends in Joplin. Tuttle said the event is put on by seven participating cities along the way: Commerce, Quapaw and Miami in Oklahoma; Riverton, Galena and Baxter Springs in Kansas; and Joplin in Missouri.
He said volunteers are signed up for the 16 hydration stations and other locations where they will be needed, but that organizers are inviting residents to come out and watch.
“What we would really like to have is people out along the way, making noise, cheering them on, being proud of them. When you are talking about 26 miles, it gets really fatiguing and encouraging them on is a good thing.”
Besides the marathon and half-marathon, there also is a 5K run set for Sunday. All races begin at 7:30 a.m.
This year, said Tuttle, 170 runners are registered for the marathon, compared with 138 last year, and 322 runners had signed up for the half-marathon, compared with 292 last year. The 5K as of Tuesday was lagging behind the 211 who participated last year. It had 180 runners. But the organizers are expecting all of the numbers to change as the race day approaches.
The inaugural run in 2010 attracted about 1,500 runners, but Tuttle said the number dropped last year because of the May 22, 2011, tornado. He said the city didn’t begin promoting the marathon until it was certain it could hold the event, and also because there was a lot of uncertainty about lodging, which kept out-of-town runners at bay.
This year, he said, some of the 2010 runners who sat out the race in 2011 are returning.
“We’ve got 21 states represented and 16 running clubs from across the United States,” he said.
Tuttle also said there will be an expo in which businesses can exhibit products from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Joplin City Hall, 602 S. Main St., where runners also may pick up their race packets.
For more details about the Mother Road Marathon, go to runmrm.com or www.active.com.