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Runners take your mark ... Woodruff race set for Wednesday in Connellsville

| Thursday, July 4, 2013, 6:09 p.m.

More than 500 runners/walkers are expected to hit the streets of Connellsville on Wednesday during the 31st annual John Woodruff 5K Run and Walk.

The event starts and ends at Falcon Stadium on Arch Street.

“Our committee gets together in July for the race, and it all comes together. Everyone knows their job and makes sure it gets done,” said Nancy Dye, Woodruff race committee member.

Volunteer Chris Wallander sends out letters. Plans are made for T-shirts, souvenir glasses and more, Dye said.

Rick Grimaldi has been a Woodruff committee member since the race began.

“The Woodruff Race is one of the biggest events we have in this area. It is a great community function. We have participants from everywhere, including West Virginia, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland and even greater distances such as the New England states. It is an all-ages activity, one that often brings entire families together. We have had grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters that compete. There are those who make this event a ritual. Several groups from the Greensburg area come every year to compete. They just don't miss this. It's the Woodruff race,” Grimaldi said.

This year's race benefits the 25th annual John Woodruff Scholarship, said Linda Ruth, race committee member. The scholarship is awarded yearly to a female and a male graduate from Connellsville Area High School.

The 2013 scholarship winners are Lauren Harvey and Matthew Cramer.

The race begins at 7 p.m., the walk begins at 7:05 p.m. and the noncompetitive walker groups begin at 7:10 p.m.

There is a kid's fun run in Falcon Stadium starting at 6 p.m. for those who are 9 years old and younger. No application is needed.

Spectators are a big part of the evening. They line Arch Street to watch the race begin then sit in the stadium bleachers to watch and cheer as competitors enter the stadium and cross the finish line.

Kevin Harrison announces during the race each year and names many of the competitors as they complete the 5K. He keeps spectators informed through the awards ceremony.

Registration is $20. Applications can be picked up at Bud Murphys, the Greater Connellsville Area Chamber of Commerce office, Grimaldi Dental office and online at www.woodruffrace.com.

Those who walk up the night of the race can bring their application, with check made payable to John Woodruff Club. Those who have pre-registered can pick up their packets early, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at New Haven Hose Company on Seventh Street.

Door-prize winners will be posted at the awards ceremony. There will be refreshments and water for competitors at the end of the race.

Awards will be presented to age-group winners. Timing is provided by SERJ Racing Services. A post-race get-together will be held at Bud Murphy's. Souvenir event glasses will be filled for free from 8-10 p.m.

“This race is a great tribute to John Woodruff. He was a tremendous person; Connellsville was very near and dear to him. He came from Arizona every year for this race when he was able. We keep this event alive in his memory,” Grimaldi said.

Beginning next year, race applications will no longer be mailed out. They can be obtained at www.woodruffrace.com.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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