By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
TUPELO – After every spot for last year’s Tupelo Marathon was claimed in June, two months ahead of race day, director David Whiteside decided to add 50 more openings for the 29th running.
Turns out, that wasn’t enough either as all 600 spaces for this year’s race were again filled by the end of June. So Whiteside went back to the drawing board one more time.
Ten charity spots were created and sold for $200 apiece with the proceeds going to Women’s First Resource Center in Tupelo to help cancer patients.
“We’re really kind of proud of that,” Whiteside said. “We were hoping to sell three or four, but some said they paid that much to run in big marathons and can come have fun in Tupelo.”
For the second straight year, a tropical system may affect the conditions early Sunday morning when the runners hit the course that begins and ends at the Tupelo Furniture Market. However, Whiteside expects no problems getting the race in.
“Sunday certainly should be runnable,” he said. “The plan is if it rains to get wet and stick it out. We’re hoping for the cooler temperatures for sure.”
All four 2011 champions are scheduled to return and defend their titles, including men’s and women’s marathon winners Caleb Hammonds of Flowood and Sandy Lynch of Florence, Ala.
Three-time Tupelo Marathon champion Leah Thorvilson will be in town after missing last year because of an elite schedule. Thorvilson, though, is not scheduled to run due to injury.
“She’s coming back just to support her team,” said Whiteside. “But she’s a runner, so you never know.”
Starkville’s Kelly White and Little Rock, Ark., native Imari Dellimore are the defending 14.2-mile race winners. Dellimore edged Terry Lawhead of Hattiesburg by seven seconds in the closest finish last year.