Racers beat feet from downtown Kilgore to Longview

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In the buildup to Saturday’s Kilgore-to-Longview run, organizers were re-thinking the frequency of the race.

After resurrecting the competition last year – following a 16-year gap – and preparing for their 2018 followup, Christina Little and her crew from the Longview Running Club were inclined to make it a triennial challenge: they’d plan the next for 2021.

With Saturday’s enthusiastic turnout, however, the race will likely be back in just 12 months.

“Things went really, really well,” Little said Tuesday. “It was such a great race. All of the participants were so excited about it.

“They begged us to bring it back next year, so it looks like we’re going to come back next year. It looks like it’s going to happen.”

Participation declined this year, sure, but Little’s not discouraged: there were 176 registrants Saturday morning despite cold, wet, gloomy weather. They were eager to get started on the 11-mile trek from the South Kilgore Street starting line to Longview’s Maude Cobb Convention & Activity Center.

As shuttle-buses discharged scores of runners in front of the Texan Theater, William Songock jogged up and down the street, back and forth, loosening up before the miles ahead.

The 33-year-old won last year’s challenge after one hour, two minutes and 21 seconds. Songock was eager, certainly, to take the number one spot again.

“It’s nice. I’m ready for it, the weather is good,” he said, comfortable with the occasional drizzle. “We’ll see how it goes.”

The racers launched about 8 a.m. Sprinting past the Texan Theater then the Crim and through the Kilgore Main Street District, arms and legs churned as the throng of runners became an amoebic mass that stretched into a steadily-lengthening chain along Hwy. 42. Singles, doubles and groups passed over the bridge and railroad tracks to turn right on Longview Street then shift northbound on Hwy. 31.

Ultimately, Songock’s pace was in line with his 2017 time, finishing at 1:02:38.1. The race’s second year back brought more challengers, though – the Shreveport racer placed third, behind Garrett Mayeayx of Dallas (1:01:27.0) and the first-place runner, Tyler’s Grady Frazier, and his time of one-hour, one-minute to complete the 11-mile course.

With the top three racers in the men’s category set – leaving with $300, $200 and $100, respectively – Saturday’s fastest women were Rachel C. Corigliano from Barksdale Air Force Base (1:09:56.4), Gladewater’s Carly Wilson (1:13:39.0) and Leslie Stelpflug of Tatum (1:19:56.8). The women also left with the same breakdown of cash prizes.

For complete results, visit tinyurl.com/KilgoreToLongview2018.

Little was especially pleased with Corigliano’s finish – the runner was a late registration.

“She walked up race day morning and registered and won it. There was no warning Rachel was going to show up and dominate,” Little said. “The route was great. Everybody loved it.

“We changed up the beginning of the route a little bit. It was a lot more safe, easy to follow. That was basically their only complaint last year, about the course. We were able to work that out and it’s a perfect course now.”

With another successful race in the books, she’s confident the organizers will fulfill the runners’ request and bring the 11-mile competition back in February 2019.

“It’s in the works.”

For more information, visit LongviewRunningClub.com.

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