Gum Tree hoping for rush of walkers

By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The fast runners get most of the attention, but walkers are also invited to Saturday’s Gum Tree 10k and 2k fun run.
And if they get up Saturday morning and decide it’s a good day to enter, that’s OK.
“It’s supposed to be very pretty, maybe 15 to 20 degrees cooler than last Saturday,” race director Andy Hughes said Wednesday. “If you’re going to do the Gum Tree, the weather is going to be as it gets on May 12 in Tupelo.”
You can register today at the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau office from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. – packet pickup time for those who pre-registered – and walkup registration will be available starting at 7 a.m. at the race site downtown at Main and Front streets.
The entry fee is $20. The race starts at 8:30 a.m.
“We’ve had days when we’ve had 200 people sign up on Fridays and 400 on Saturdays,” Hughes said. “When I was a kid, I’d wake up on race day and say, ‘Let’s do it.’ We’re trying to stay as flexible as we can.”
That’s a boost for Habitat for Humanity, which benefits from the race.
“We’d like to have more walkers,” Hughes said. “The more we have, the more we raise for Habitat. A hundred extra walkers, that’s $2,000 for Habitat. Walking groups entering together, we really encourage that.”
It will be the first chance for everyone to take in the new 10k race route, which will include a small segment on Clayton Ave. where runners will be going in both directions.
“It’s a chance for those in the field to see some of the faster runners in action,” Hughes said.
The new finish line will bring runners to the entrance of Fairpark.
“Finish-line festivities will be much better,” Hughes said, with a live band, a beer garden and “a better post-race environment.
john.pitts@journalinc.com