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Second annual Sunset Mile ready to set new records this Friday in Fairmont

Jun. 5—FAIRMONT — The second ever Sunset Mile run comes ever closer to Fairmont as dozens of runners will converge on Morgantown Avenue for the mile long run Friday evening.

The race, hosted by Fairmont State University cross country head coach Kaylyn Christopher, will raise money to cover the costs for the Falcons' cross country team. She's bringing it back after a positive community response from last year's inaugural race.

"Last year was our first year giving it a shot, and we had really good turnout and really positive feedback," Christopher said. "We felt like the community really enjoyed it, so we wanted to put it on again. Our hope was that we would double our participation, and it looks like we're gonna hit that mark, so we're really excited about it."

As of writing, there are 93 registered participants listed on the registration page on Race Roster. There are also 11 kids signed up for the kids' 400 meter race to bring the total to 104. Christopher believes the final number will reach 120 when race day registrations are included.

The race starts at the section of Morgantown Avenue between Advanced Auto Parts and the Fairmont Free Methodist Church. It goes past the stoplight into Palatine Park and ends at the boat ramp past the bridge.

Will LeMaster, a senior architecture major at Fairmont State, runs on the men's cross country team. He ran in last year's Sunset Mile and will run in it again come Friday. He hopes the short distance and terrain of the race will get people interested in participating.

"Most road races are 5K, 10K, up to half marathon and marathon. You don't really see any that are as short of a distance as a mile, so I think that's one pull," LeMaster said. "With it being downhill, it can be a really big confidence booster for a lot of people. Even if they have ran a mile before, with the downhill they can get a quicker time and surprise themselves on what they can do even if it does have a little bit of help of the hill."

Christopher chose the mile length to draw more people but also because of her love for the distance. She was the first female high school runner in West Virginia to finish a mile in under five minutes in 2006 while a student at Preston High.

"It's just a special race distance for me, and I thought what could we do to be a little bit unique," Christopher said. "You see 5K's and 10 K's and things like that all the time. Those are all great and fun, but I wanted to find something that can set us apart and be really accessible to people. Some people who are maybe new to running or walking, I think the mile is an achievable distance and a really good way to get people out."

Going along with the community outreach aspect, this year's Sunset Mile features sponsors from Wilson Design Associates, Wilson Martino Dental, and Amsbary Enterprises LLC. There will also be vendors from Brooks Running and Bridgeport Running, free pizza from Fox's Pizza Den, and music provided by Crafted Events.

Participants 21 years old and older will get a free beer ticket for the post race after party at Stumptown Ales, located just a flight of stairs from Palatine Park. Kids in the kids 400 race will also receive a $5 gift card to Arcade-O-Mania.

The Sunset Mile has a $20 entry fee, while the kids 400 meter has a $5 entry fee. All of the money raised will go to raise funds for Fairmont State's cross country team expenses, such as food, travel, uniforms, and even scholarships, according to Christopher.

"It's kind of at Coach [Christopher's] discretion where she puts that money, but it all goes to someway that helps us out whether it be any of those things or more," LeMaster said.

According to the registration page on Race Roster, there are awards for the Top 3 men and women finishers and the first-place male and female Fairmont State cross country alumni in the race.

Those interested in running can either register at the event or ahead of time on Race Roster's website and searching "Sunset Mile Fairmont, WV" to find the registration page. Christopher said the registration and packet pickup table is at the end of the mile, so runners should walk or jog to the start to warm up. Police will have the road blocked off to traffic.

The 2024 Sunset Mile starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 7 across from the Advanced Auto Parts. The kids 400 meter will start at 7:25 p.m. in Palatine Park.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548