By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Sunday’s 27th running of the Tupelo Marathon will be loaded with Razorbacks.
More than 75 Arkansas-based runners have signed up, including last year’s defending champions from Little Rock, Leah Thorvilson and Justin Radke.
Thorvilson, 30, broke the female record with a clocking of 2 hours, 46 minutes, 10 seconds on the 26.2-mile course that starts and finishes at the Tupelo Furniture Market on Coley Road.
Radke’s winning time was 2:43.14.
“We’ve got 35 to 40 runners from Little Rock signed up,” race director David Whiteside said. “We’ve got another small group coming from there just to help with the water stations.”
Whiteside said 20 to 25 runners from Jonesboro, Ark., have also signed up to compete in either the marathon or 14.2-mile race.
Both races have been filled entry-wise since July 28.
Whiteside’s seen the Arkansas contingent grow over the last few years. He said the marathon’s “quirky nature” – which includes skull and crossbones T-shirts and medals – attracts runners.
“They had a big crowd here last year,” he said. “They like to get together and have fun and run. Our race is more about having fun.”
Defending 14.2-mile champions Imari Dellimore of Little Rock and Michelle Laforest of Clarksdale have not signed up, Whiteside said.
The marathon starts at 5 a.m., which should help runners from a heat standpoint.
“It looks like we’re getting a break from the heat,” Whiteside said. “I had been scared to death about putting people on the course with the heat index being so high. I think the overnight low is supposed to be in the mid 60s.”
Both races have six-hour time limits.
Two runners expected to participate are Dana Casanave, a Virginia native, who is running a race every weekend for 52 weeks to raise money for relief in Africa. Also, Matt Jenkins, a native of North Carolina, hopes to run a second straight year in Tupelo in his sock feet.
“He ran a race recently with only duct tape on his feet,” Whiteside said.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593