Runners will invade New Prague Saturday

While it may be a little windy, ideal running temperatures are expected Saturday, May 11, for the 28th annual New Prague Half-Marathon.

This year’s event features not only the 13.1-mile halfmarathon and a 5K race, but also a new 10K race. In addition, there will be a Kid’s Fun Run for those ages 4-12.

Kristy Mach, executive director of the New Prague Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, said the 13.1-mile Half- Marathon starts at 8 a.m. The race begins on Second Street near the Veteran's Memorial in Memorial Park. Runners head west and south along residential streets and leave town along First Ave. SE. They run a loop following Le Sueur County roads 29, 28 and 3 (formerly County Road 144), then come back into town the same way they left.

The 10K (10-kilometer) race will start at 8:15 a.m. near the Community Pool, with runners going south out of town on 10th Ave. SE, east on Le Sueur County Road 29, south on 141st Ave., west on 300th St, then north on County Road 3, following the same route to the finish line as the half-marathon. Runners should note a portion of the race will be run on gravel roads.

The 5K (5-kilometer) race begins at 8:30 a.m., also near the Community Pool. Runners will follow several residential streets until reaching 10th Ave. SE, where they will turn south. They go west on County Road 29, to First Ave. SE, come back into town following residential streets until they wind up at the finish line.

The Fun Run begins at 10:30 a.m. and runners will run in the area around Memorial Park. Starting times will be staggered for different age groups.

Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague and the Fitness Center are the primary sponsors for the event. A number of other businesses and organizations are serving as “Gold Level” sponsors and “Race Friends.”

Spectators are welcome for the races. For the Half- Marathon course the chamber has recommended viewing areas where spectators can safely watch the race. They are at markers for miles 5, 6, 8, 10 and 11.

There will be six aid station along the route staffed by a volunteer organization. Each group will have a theme for their station. There will also be an aid station on the 10K route. Groups staffing the aid stations this year are:

• Czech Area ConcertinaClub

• New Prague Soccer Booster Club

• Wacker Drywall Softball Team

• New Prague Area Community Band

• Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

• New Prague Band Boosters

• St. Wenceslaus School kitchen staff

As of Tuesday, May 7, there were 270 runners preregistered for the Half- Marathon, 136 for the 10K and 307 for the 5K. Pre-registration has ended, but runners can register Friday or Saturday. Packet pickup and registration will be from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Park Ballroom, and is being held in conjunction with the New Prague Rotary’s Spaghetti Supper. Same day registration begins at 6 a.m. at the Memorial Park headquarters. Mach said the number of pre-registrations is down slightly due to the uncertain weather this spring, but they expect a large number of same-day registrants.

Jeff Metzdorff of St. Paul won the men’s division for the 2012 Half-Marathon in 1 hour, 12 minutes, 36 seconds. He won by a seven-minute margin over his nearest competitor. Nichole Porath of Northfield won the women’s half.

Metzdorff is expected to compete on Saturday, and he will be challenged by several other high profile runners who have already registered. Last year’s 5K winners were Mike Buenting and Angela Kidd, both of Chanhassen