By Ida Brown / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Local marathon enthusiasts no longer have to leave Meridian to get their run on.
Saturday's Leo Run to Remember will feature a marathon, half-marathon and 4-person relay. The event is hosted by the Meridian LEO Club, a youth entity of Lions Club International that encourages members to develop leadership qualities by participating in social service activities. LEO is an acronym for "Leadership" "Experience" and "Opportunity."
"The LEOs are 12-18 year olds and have been in existence for about three years. Meridian is one of three Lions Clubs in Mississippi that has a LEO Club," said Tommy King of the Meridian Lions Club and race director.
Conforming with the local youth group's focus of serving the community's elderly, the marathon has been named Run to Remember as a dedication to those living with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Foundation will be the primary beneficiary of proceeds from the event, with proceeds also going to local charities Camp Eagle Ridge and Hope Village for Children and the Mississippi Lions Sight Foundation.
More than 250 runners are signed up for the marathon, 1/2 marathon and 4-team relay. All events will start at 7 a.m. at Northeast Recreation Park. Road blocks will not be set up, however local law enforcement will escort the runners as well as be stationed at major intersections, King said.
Race officials encourage the community to stand along the route and cheer the runners. Courses are as follows:
• Full marathon (26.2 miles): Runs south through the heart of downtown Meridian passing the train depot, the MSU Riley Center, the Historic Poplar Springs Drive District, north on Hillview Drive, then south on Highway 39 returning to Northeast Park.
• Half marathon (13.1 miles): Runs along the same route as the full marathon, turning east on North Hills Street and returning to Northeast Park.
A post-race party and awards ceremony will be held at Northwest Park. Awards for marathon and half-marathon participants are: a custom, hand-sewn, quilted commemorative wall hanging for the top overall male and female finishers; the top three finishing times in each age division for males and females will receive a 23-ounce soup mug imprinted with the race logo (blue, red, white); individual participants finishing prior to course closing at 3 p.m. will receive a marathon finisher’s medal.
Each member of the top three relay teams will receive a 23-ounce soup mug imprinted with the race logo (blue, red, white).
Activities will take place at Northeast Recreational Park during the marathon events, which will kick off with a cannon blast. Children's activities will be provided by MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), as well as event sponsor the Army National Guard Recruits, which will set up inflatables. Music will be provided by Back Pocket, The Junior Angels and My Savior Story. Concessions also will be available.