The 30th annual Erick’s Run, a 5K run honoring the late Carthage High School track and cross country standout Erick Grove, is slated for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24, at Carthage High School.

With this being the 30th year for the event, race organizer and Carthage High School coach Andy Youngworth said he and Erick’s parents, Rick and Donna Grove, are hoping for a big turnout despite the pandemic.

And yes, Youngworth said organizers are planning for precautions because of the pandemic.

“That’s the No. 1 thing in the back of my mind and in everyone’s mind,” Youngworth said. “We ran the Red White and Boom Run in the summer, and we had people pick up packets the night before the race and we set up some extra social distancing, set up a couple of extra tables and separated people.”

Youngworth said participants will be required to wear masks and social distance while inside Carthage High School for registration or awards.

Social distancing will be encouraged during the run itself.

“The amount of time you spend in a road race within 6 feet of each other really is just at the start,” Youngworth said. “If we had a really big crowd, we’d do some kind of staggered start, but we’ll probably have 50 to 70 runners. It just depends on the weather.”

Youngworth said participation in Erick’s Run is especially dependent on milder winter weather.

“A lot of people wait until the week of the event to make a decision based on the weather,” Youngworth said. “If it’s good for a couple of weeks and people have a chance to train, they’re more willing to come out.”

Youngworth said organizers are also offering people the chance to participate virtually in an online race.

Online participants have to pay the fee, then run a 5K race on their own and send the time to race officials.

Virtual racers will have their times posted and will get a T-shirt for participating, but they won’t be eligible for race awards.

People interested in signing up can look up Erick’s Run on Facebook and click on the links provided in the posts.

Youngworth said the race course has been certified with the U.S. Track and Field Association, and all times run will be recorded at the state level and will be eligible for state records at the 5K distance.

About Erick

Erick Grove was born to Rick and Donna Grove on Feb. 6, 1972, and was a standout cross country and track athlete at Carthage High School from 1988 to his graduation in 1990.

He set school records in the 1,600 meters in 1990 and as part of the 3,200-meter relay team in 1989.

He was planning to continue his education and running career at Missouri State University, but he died in a work-related accident in the summer of 1990.

Grove was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2014, and his biography can be seen online at https://hallofcarthageheroes.wordpress.com, under inductees and 2014.

The proceeds from this race go to provide college scholarships to Carthage High School cross country and track athletes.

Corporate sponsors of the event include Mercy Sports Medicine, Petland of Joplin and Northwest Arkansas, Tony Williams State Farm Insurance, Specialty Risk Insurance, Jerry Poston State Farm Insurance, Bob Brown American Family Insurance and Kenney Arnold All-State Insurance.

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