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Growth brings changes to Frederick Running Festival

Thursday - 5/3/2012, 2:00am  ET


Runners from 37 states and five countries will take to city streets this weekend to race toward the Frederick Running Festival finish line.

As of Wednesday, about 7,500 runners had signed up for the 10th annual run, an event that Lee Corrigan, president of race sponsor Corrigan Sports Enterprises, said "reflects community spirit" and offers a "terrific outpouring of enthusiasm" in Frederick.

Sunday's half marathon begins and ends at the Frederick Fairgrounds, and winds through the city, leaving what race director Rachel Ridgway said is "hopefully minimal impact to roads."

Rolling road closures will be in effect for about the first five miles of the race -- from Patrick Street to Fairview Avenue -- while the Frederick Police Department will block traffic to the streets as runners travel through, then reopen the road once the last participant has passed.

Along the remaining eight miles, streets will be reduced to one lane, allowing traffic to pass during the race.

Ridgway expects the last runner to cross the finish line by 10:15 a.m. Sunday, after which city streets will reopen to traffic.

This year's route, available on the festival's website, continues the event's tradition of change, Ridgway said. The course gets tweaked each year.

Corrigan and Ridgway agreed that the event has seen significant growth in the decade it has run through the city.

"Ten years later, instead of 500 (runners), we have 7,500," said Ridgway, who participated in the city's first running festival in 2002 and has volunteered her time ever since.

The two-day event offers opportunities for all ages and athletic abilities, Ridgway said, noting that the oldest registered runner is 78 years old.

It does not take a professional athlete to run the course, as some clients of the Frederick Rescue Mission plan to prove this weekend.

Pastor Keith Rivers, program director, and seven clients have been training three or four days a week in preparation for the run, which Rivers said is good for recovery, as well as camaraderie.

"It's exciting to be out there and run," client Clifton Henry said. "It's something to look forward to."

For those more inclined to spectate, Ridgway suggested viewing points at the fairgrounds, Baker Park and along Carroll Creek.