There’s absolutely no hesitating for Jim Malone: after the Kilgore-to-Longview Run was successfully resurrected Saturday after a 15-year lull, it will definitely be coming back.
“This is going to be annual event from here on out,” the Longview Running Club treasurer said Tuesday. “We had so many people that were so excited; they said it was the best run they’ve had in a long time.”
More than 300 runners registered for the event, and they flowed past the starting line on South Kilgore Street Saturday morning, passing through the Main Street core and heading toward Hwy. 259 with the Longview Fairgrounds 11 miles away.
“I was so happy to be able to do this run again,” Jenneth Merriman told the running club organizers: the 70-year-old ran the route back in its original quarter-century stretch between 1976 and 2002.
There were other Kilgore-to-Longview Run veterans among the weekend’s crowd, and they were joined by scores of others from throughout North and East Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere.
“They were just from all over, from everywhere,” Malone said Tuesday, and each contributed a portion of thousands of fundraising dollars for Habitat for Humanity efforts in both Longview and Kilgore: “We don’t have everything in yet, but it’s going to be approximately $13,000 to $15,000.”
Kilgore Police Department personnel helped manage traffic as the stream of runners left downtown Kilgore and headed onto the highway, steadily spreading out into a loose flow of arms, legs, Spandex and sweat snaking north.
The serpentine crowd of competitors included the race’s oldest runner – 75-year-old David Reeder of Shreveport, Louisiana – who reached the run’s end in two hours, 16 minutes. The youngest runner was 13 years-old, and the fastest in the lowest age bracket – Alex Pennington, 14, of Longview – finished at 1:16:55. The overall female runner was Sara Deller of Gladewater; the 34-year-old clocked in at 1:14:16.
The record for the event is 57 minutes, eight seconds, set by Dewayne Allen in 1984. The women’s record is 1:07:03, held by Joyce Florance since 1992.
Saturday morning’s top contender was Shreveport’s William Songock, 32, who crossed the Longview finish line after one hour, two minutes, 21 seconds.
Trekking 11 miles, “That’s an average pace of five minutes, 42 seconds a mile,” Malone said. “That’s fast.”
With as many as 50 volunteers assisting in the event – beginning in Kilgore, crossing to Longview and terminating with an after-party at the fairgrounds – the revived run went better than expected, he concluded.
“Of course it takes a lot of work to put that on,” he said. “It turned out really, really well.
“We’re going to do it every year.”
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