Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 17, 2012

Athens Mile set to premiere Saturday

ATHENS — Competition on Vermillion Street in Athens is usually limited to drivers beating other vehicles into and out of the post office parking lot.

A much different competition, pitting a gaggle of runners against each other, has been scheduled for this Saturday morning.

The first “Athens Mile” race will begin at 9 a.m. near the only stoplight in Athens and will end at the football stadium on the Concord University campus.

Race organizer is Lance McDaniel, a long-distance runner and Concord alumnus who now works as a graphic artist for the university. He is a member of the Princeton Church of God Running Club, which will receive any proceeds from the race.

“We’re kind of doing it as an outreach ministry,” McDaniel said. “It’s a race, but it’s another way of spreading the Gospel. We’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Anyone may sign up to participate, he said. “If you don’t want to run, you can walk it,” he said. “It should be a good time.”

Race-day registration will take place Saturday from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. at the football stadium or at the small gym in the Carter Center on the campus.

A “Kids’ Quarter-Mile” race, for children ages 10 and under, is planned for after the main race.

The idea for the race came from a random conversation, McDaniel said. As a Concord freshman in the fall of 2005, he marched in the university’s homecoming parade with another runner for the Mountain Lions, Erica Farmer Morgan of Princeton.

“We were just talking about how much fun it’d be to have a race down Vermillion Street,” McDaniel said. “That stuck with me. I never forgot about that. I talked to her later and she could not remember that conversation at all. But I got the idea from her as far as the race goes.”

McDaniel, a 2010 Concord grad, was on the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams. He ran long-distance events and the steeplechase.

He said that J.B. Hurt, an assistant pastor at the Princeton Church of God, helps with the running club. “We were looking for things to do, then I brought this idea up,” McDaniel said.

Organizing Saturday’s event, he said, is “a lot of work, a lot more work than I thought it’d be. J.B.’s helped a lot. So have volunteers at the church, and volunteers here at work.”

The pre-registration for the race now exceeds 40 runners, including marathoner Nick Bias. Nick Whited has confirmed on Facebook, McDaniel said, and Donnie Cowart, who has run a four-minute mile, is “certainly a possibility.”

Cost is $20 per person for the main race and $5 for the children’s race. Details are available at www. athensmile. com.

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