By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Saturday’s Gum Tree 10k race boasts an elite field that includes 10 men’s runners with recent times better than last year’s winner.
It could make for a very fast morning.
“The list of elite runners just kept growing and growing,” said David Branner, who helped recruit the top runners. “The interest level is really high.”
Last year’s race was plenty fast, with 11 state age records, including the overall women’s record (37:10) for eighth-place finisher Meggan Franks of Stark-ville.
“The change of course before last year’s race made it a little faster,” said Franks, who’s busy with marathon training but will be in Saturday’s field. “There was a pretty good hill to climb at the end before the course was changed and now it’s a little downhill.”
Defending champions Emmanuel Bor and Lydia Kosgei are confirmed entries for Saturday’s race. Bor won last year with a 30:20.
Last weekend’s winners in Corinth, Josh Whitehead and Tiffany (McWilliams)Dudley, will also run here.
One category to watch will be the men’s masters, as Branner said several fast out-of-state racers will challenge last year’s winner, Bo Boatner of New Albany.
Registration ($20) continues today at the Tupelo CVB office from 1 to 6 p.m. along with packet pickup for the preregistered.
Saturday’s registration ($25) is from 7 to 8 a.m.
The 10k race begins at 8:30 a.m., with the 2k run/walk ($10) to follow.
There’s a 30 percent chance of rain and temperatures should be in the 60s.