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More than 1,200 sign up for Buffalo Creek Half Marathon

Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch - Peg Lutz, 84, poses with some of the medals she has won at races since she turned 50 at her Clinton Township home on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jason Bridge  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Peg Lutz, 84, poses with some of the medals she has won at races since she turned 50 at her Clinton Township home on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch - Peg Lutz, 84, runs along Cherry Valley Road in Clinton Township as she prepares for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jason Bridge  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Peg Lutz, 84, runs along Cherry Valley Road in Clinton Township as she prepares for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dis - Peg Lutz, 84, runs along Cherry Valley Road in Clinton Township as she prepares for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jason Bridge  |  Valley News Dis</em></div>Peg Lutz, 84, runs along Cherry Valley Road in Clinton Township as she prepares for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.

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On Saturday, Peg Lutz plans to take her spot at the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon starting line with people more than 50 years her junior.

At age 84, this will be the fifth time she's competed in the race since its inception in 2006.

“The scenery is fantastic, and having the limestone to run on, it's much easier on your legs,” said Lutz, of Clinton Township.

Much to her chagrin, as the years have gone by she's added about 45 minutes to her time. Last year, she completed the half-marathon in two hours and 55 minutes.

“There's not much I can do about it,” she said. “‘If I finish and don't die' — that's my motto now.”

Lutz said she doesn't mind the looks of surprise she gets from other runners.

“If I'm an inspiration for even one person, that's wonderful,” she said. “I would hope that I could encourage other people to get out. Even if they just walk.

“It's invigorating; I don't think people realize that unless they do it.”

The Buffalo Creek Half Marathon is scheduled for Saturday. It begins at the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department on Brose Road and continues on the Butler-Freeport Community Trail to Riverside Drive in Freeport.

The race is the largest fundraiser for the 21-mile Butler-Freeport Community Trail.

This year's goal is to raise $45,000, all of which will fund trail maintenance, said Chris Ziegler, president of the trail board of directors.

“It's an extraordinary amount of money to maintain the trail,” she said. Last year, the group spent between $50,000 and $60,000 on a bridge deck and railing for the new bridge over Coal Run in Butler Township, repairing other bridges and the new surface.

Last year's race brought in $38,000, Ziegler said.

More than 1,200 runners have signed up for the 13.1-mile race — the most ever.

“I'm really excited about the race,” Ziegler said. “When we first started eight years ago we had 174 runners.

“It's extraordinary how it's grown.”

New for this year is a timing mat at the start and finish lines to cut down on crowding at the start. As usual, there will be hot apple cider waiting for runners at the finish line.

The half marathon is a popular race because the course is fast and scenic, said Ed Doyle, owner of Up-N-Running, a running supply store in Middlesex, which provides silk-screened T-shirts for the race.

“From point-to-point, it's mostly downhill,” he said. “From a runner's point of view, it's going to be one of the fastest half-marathons they've ever run.”

Doyle helped get the marathon going the first year, along with Ron Bennett, former trail board president, who was instrumental in transforming the former railroad line into a community hiking and biking trail.

“It's a labor of love,” he said. “We've been nurturing this half-marathon for many years.”

For Lutz, the race is about the fun of it.

She said she started running at 50 because she was worried about her daughter running alone on the rural roads of southern Butler County. Lutz said she started out with fast walking, then moved to jogging and now she has numerous marathons under her belt.

She said she also stays in shape with biking and yard work, but she likes running because it clears her mind.

“It gives me a sense of well-being,” Lutz said.

Her words of advice to beginners is that the key to finishing a long race is pacing.

“The secret is to not start out too fast,” she said.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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