It is official, with one week before the starting gun, the Bank of Mississippi Gum Tree 10K is official with its new course.
With the road work at two intersections on Jackson Street that caused the Gum Tree to change most of the second mile, it was necessary to recertify the course. Not many elite runners have mailed in applications to the Gum Tree in recent days, but verification of the course change certification did come in the mail.
“The change is officially certified now,” race director Johnny Dye said. “With the old course and the new course, we can use whichever one we want to now.”
With the course change, paperwork had to be sent off to the Road Running Technical Counsel of the United States of America Track and Field (USATF).
The men’s Masters field probably had the most activity this week, with two names at the forefront.
Nash Jiminez of Jackson, Tenn., and Lloyd Stevenson of San Francisco should be some of the top finishers in this year’s Gum Tree. Jiminez is a regular challenger for the Masters title, and has a recent 10K time of 32 minutes, 30 seconds, while Stevenson has a recent time of 31:10.
There was also some action in the women’s open division this week. Two Birmingham residents, Mary Jo Schmalz, with a recent 10K time of 36:56, and Andrea Ripley, with a recent time of 36:43, are the new challengers.
“Mostly, we have everything lined up right now,” Dye said. Some medical logistics do need to be taken care of, Dye said, along with last-minute details taken care of with the Tupelo Public Works Department, the Tupelo Police Department and the Mississippi National Guard.
“This has been a pretty good week as far as registration,” said Dye, who reports that as of Thursday morning, the Gum Tree had about 1,200 entrants. “We had been running a little ahead, but we’ve drawn back neck and neck (with last year).”
The Gum Tree is set for its 20th running on Saturday, with an 8:30 a.m. starting time. The registration fee is $15 through 8 a.m. the day of the race.
Registration forms can be picked up at most Tupelo sporting goods stores and at Bank of Mississippi branches. The race begins and ends at the Bank of Mississippi main office in Tupelo, One Mississippi Plaza on Front Street.