The sun came out for the annual Murray Half Marathon Saturday. Dozens of runners and spirit teams crowded the streets of downtown Murray in order to participate in the race and help raise money for the Murray-Calloway Endowment for Healthcare.
This is the fourth annual event and it’s still going strong. This year, 730 runners from 19 states participated in the race, breaking last year’s record. The Endowment reached its financial goal of $3.5 million, but it’s still hoping to expand in the future, according to Susan Davis, coordinator for the Endowment.
The money raised at this event will not only help fund the hospital, it will also go toward the Anna Mae Owen Residential Hospice House. The facility will be specifically designed to accommodate patients facing end-of-life situations. The building will be located on State Route 94 West and is expected to be built sometime this spring.
More than 250 volunteers came to the event to cheer on runners, help set up water tables and organize the event. Spirit teams were set up every half-mile to encourage runners every step of the way. The teams played music, handed out water and fruit slices for the runners and dressed up with a theme.
“There was a ‘Wizard of Oz’ theme, a bumble bee theme and a rock ‘n’ roll theme,” said participant Valerie Bender from Geneva, Ill. “They’re very helpful especially when it comes to the sixth mile. They’re like a little support team and they hand out water which is nice.”
After the race, the awards were given. A total of $1,000 was awarded to the top five male and female finishers. Gold, silver and bronze medals were given to the winners of each age group. The half-marathon winner of the female division was Carolyne Tanui, graduate student from Murray. This was her first half-marathon, but she is a member of the track and field team for Murray State.
“I enjoyed it,” Tanui said. “I went just to see how it feels to run a half-marathon. It was fun just running around Murray enjoying the pretty town.”
She also said that she felt supported by all of the other runners. Although there are “elite” runners and those who only do it for the fundraising aspect or for the enjoyment of running, everyone is each other’s support system.
A total of 47 sponsors contributed to the event, including the Murray Bank, which donated $125,000 to the event. The entire community came together to support the runners and help raise money for the hospital and Hospice House.
The Endowment was able to give out $7,000 in awards this year thanks to entry fees and $50,000 from sponsorships. Last year, the money raised was $43,000.
The coordinators of the Murray Half Marathon plan to continue the event for years to come and hope to keep raising money for the Hospice House.
Story by Madison Wepfer, Staff writer