“I want people to be aware of the runners on the roads,” he said. “Make sure you remember they’re out there and give them a little room.”
The 14.2-mile and 26.2-mile races, which step off at 5 a.m. at the Tupelo Furniture Market on Coley Road and Chesterville Road, are run mostly on rural roads and through residential areas.
A field of 250 runners will compete in the 14.2 miler while a field of 300 is expected for the marathon.
“We limit the number of runners because of safety,” Whiteside said. “We’d love everybody to come and be able to compete, but we’re a small running club.”
Whiteside, who has competed in the 14.2 miler and helped former director Mike Lail in recent years, said the field is shaping up to be competitive in both events.
Defending men’s open marathon champion, Chuck Engle, has not signed up, but Whiteside has his name on the entry list just in case he shows.
“With the schedule he keeps, it’s not unusual to not hear from Chuck,” he said.
Engle, who is a seven-time Tupelo Marathon champion, won last year’s race in 2 hours, 47 minutes, 15 seconds. He set the course record with a 2:34:33 clocking in 2000.
Last year’s female open marathon winner, Little Rock’s Leah Thorvilson, has not signed up, but Whiteside said a large group from the Arkansas city has entered both races.
“The fields have shaped up for both races,” Whiteside said.
Last year’s champions in the 14.2 miler were Ian McFarland, of Columbus, and Rebecca Jordan, of Brewton, Ala.