By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Pamela Crim admits that Joplin isn’t the most convenient place for her to run a marathon.
But that doesn’t stop the California resident and members of her Smokin’ Hot Mamas club from attending the Mother Road Marathon every year.
“We have women coming from 15 different states,” Crim said. “It’s very inconvenient for some of them. Some are coming from Washington state, Minnesota. Some don’t know where Joplin is. We keep coming because I love Joplin. We love the race directors. We love the special attention we get each year. From the police officers on the route to the volunteers giving drinks, everyone just went out of their way for us. We count down for this race every year and couldn’t miss it.”
The third annual Mother Road Marathon will start at 7:30 a.m. Sunday on historic Route 66. The full marathon (26.2 miles) will begin in Commerce, Okla., while the half marathon (13.1 miles) starts in Baxter Springs, Kan. Both races will finish at the Joplin Athletic Complex, and a 5-kilometer run will begin and end at the complex.
Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said as of Thursday night that more than 740 people were signed up to compete in one of the three races. Registration is open until 8 tonight.
Sixty-five of the competitors will come from Crim’s Smokin’ Hot Mamas, which is an Internet-based group of women who want to change the way females treat themselves and each other.
“Our motto is to become your best, so you can give your best,” Crim said. “Most of these women aren’t runners. It’s about bettering themselves and having their kids see mom accomplish something.”
Crim knows a thing or two about accomplishments. She suffered a stroke at age 19 and was left unable to walk or talk.
“They said I would be a vegetable,” Crim said. “Obviously, I’m not. At 26 years old, I ran my first marathon.”
On Sunday, Crim will be running in the half marathon and celebrating her 37th birthday.
Crim and all of the Smokin’ Hot Mamas will be wearing hot pink capes as they compete.
Tuttle said the goal for this year’s race is to have 800 competitors, which is still within reach by the deadline.
More than 1,300 competed in the inaugural races, but the total dropped significantly last year because of uncertainty after the tornado. The event also will be on the same day as the Prairie Fire marathon in Wichita, Kan., for the second consecutive year.
Tuttle said that going into next year there will be some decisions to make on where the race will go from here.
“The intention is to eventually get somewhere around the 3,000 mark for all three events and add some things around it,” he said.
“We’ve spent the first three years getting our base down and getting more than 600 volunteers. As we enter the fourth year, we will have to decide whether to offer prize money to pull in more of the elite runners.”
Registration can be completed at www.RunMRM.com through www.Active.com. A map of the race can be viewed at the website.