By Joel Hall
Hundreds of walkers, joggers, and runners will race through the Lake Spivey community next weekend in what will be the first USA Track and Field-certified road race to take place in Clayton or Henry counties.
The race will take place on Saturday, Nov. 8, starting at 8 a.m., at Clayton County International Park. The competition will consist of a 15K road race, a 5K run/walk, a one-mile run/walk and a tot-trot on two separate courses.
The 5K run will start at Clayton County International Park, head east on Walt Stephens Road, head northeast toward the Lake Spivey Golf Course, and return to the park via Seven Oaks Drive. The 15K run will also start at the park, but will snake its way around Lake Spivey and Lake Jodeco, making turns on Bay View Drive, Blackhall Road, Jodeco Road, Emerald Drive, and Camp Avenue.
Neil Farmer, a Jonesboro resident and the race's organizer, believes the 15K course -- which is an official qualifier for the annual Peachtree Road Race -- will draw many seasoned runners to the Southern Crescent. According to Farmer, more than 150 runners have registered, from inside and outside the state, as of Wednesday.
"This is a good thing for the area," said Farmer. "15K is an ideal distance. It's sort of the threshold where you really find your avid runners. That will be the draw ... getting people from outside the county to come to Clayton County."
Farmer said, because the 15K run goes around Lake Spivey and Lake Jodeco, the elevation stays somewhat even for most of the course. He said the fact that participants can park their cars at International Park and the race goes through residential neighborhoods will cut down on traffic and improve safety for the runners.
In addition to bringing commerce to the area, two dollars from every registration will be donated to Arts Clayton to help with its children's arts and education programs. Linda Summerlin, executive director of Arts Clayton, believes the race may become a "destination event" for the county.
"Clayton County people participate in it, but it reaches outside of the county," said Summerlin. "I think that it will be a great catalyst to build on from a tourism perspective. These races are building blocks to compete in other races, so the potential is great.
"The success is going to be in how the participants are served and the hospitality they receive, and we're famous for that," Summerlin added. "I think it will peak their interest to take a look at our community and remember us."
Registration for the race is still under way. The cost is $25 per runner for the 5K and 15K runs. Each runner will receive a long-sleeve shirt. To register or to view a course map, visit www.lakespiveyroadrace.org, or call (404) 630-8235.