By Ed Brock
Come rain or shine, the third annual Tar & Turf 4-Mile Road Race is set for this Saturday.
"We'll just get wet," said Morrow Police Major Charlie Sewell, one of the event's organizers.
Since its inception as the "DARE U 4-Mile Run" the race has been held to benefit the Morrow Police Department's DARE and the Junior Police Academy programs. Last year they changed the name to "Tar & Turf" to reflect a change in route that takes the participating runners through a mile of wooded trails at Reynolds Nature Preserve in Morrow.
"I don't know of any other race around that goes through the woods," Sewell said.
About 40 people have already pre-registered for the race. Sewell said he's expecting at least half 80 runners to show up on the day of the race. About 50 people ran in the first race.
Sewell and other race organizers, DARE Instructor Officer Wayne Butler and Clayton College and State University track coach Mike Mead have put together prize bags that include incense, Chick-fil-A coupons and passes to L.A. Fitness. Every runner and participant in the 1-mile walk also gets a race T-shirt and is entered for drawings for two door prizes, a pair of Air Tran tickets to anywhere in the country and a Kenwood family walkie-talkie set.
Awards will also be presented to top three places in eight age categories plus first male and female overall and master and grandmaster for each gender.
Morrow City Councilman Tom LaPorte has run in both races and placed first in his age category, but this year he moves into the 35 to 39 range and he expects tough competition.
"You'd think with the older categories the runners would get slower, but it's the fastest category," LaPorte said.
LaPorte said he runs an average of six times a week and participates in the Atlanta Track Club's Grand Prix Series, but the thing he likes about Tar & Turf is that's it's not all pavement.
"It's an exciting change of pace from 90 percent of races out there," LaPorte said, adding that the race is too well kept a secret. "I'd love to see 200 to 300 people come out to run it."
Mead, who ran in the race last year, said he was asked to help with Tar & Turf after he helped organize the Southlake Kiwanis Club Freedom Run held this past Dr. Martin Luther King Day. He also said the fact that the route goes through the preserve is a "big plus."
He has helped to direct other races as well.
"I always want to stress that the runner has a good experience," Mead said.
One change from last year's race is the timing. It was held in April last year, Sewell said.
"What we found is that we had a lot more races to compete with in the cooler months," Sewell said. "I think people who are true runners practice year round."
The cost of registration is $15. You can also register on the day of the race. Application can be made at the Morrow Police Headquarters at 6311A Murphy Drive or at the www.rungeorgia.com site, Sewell said.
For more information call Sewell at (770) 960-3018.