HAMLET — Changes are coming to the Mangum Track Club’s Seaboard Festival 5K this year, said Duke Smith, race director.
In addition to new sponsors, paperless registration and high-tech timing equipment, there will be a drop site for donations of school supplies.
“We actually had a presenting sponsor come on board this year,” Smith said. “That’s Sandhills Regional Medical Center, and with their funding, that enabled us to afford the electronic timing for this year, and this is a first for this event.”
Smith said that 21 other businesses are sponsoring the run “at different levels, to help us out,” which he said he finds “amazing.”
“And since we have a presenting sponsor this year, the name of the race is actually the Seaboard Festival 5K Presented by the Sandhills Regional Medical Center.”
Runners this year will know their official finishing times down to the tenth of a second at least, Smith added.
“On your race bib you’ll be given, it will have an electronic metal strip that picks you up when you go across the timing mat,” he explained. “There will be a timing company there, and it’s accurate. Very accurate.”
Smith said the way entrants’ bibs and T-shirts are distributed will also change.
“The day before the event, we’re having a school supply drive at the Hamlet Visitor’s Center, where we’ll be giving the runners their shirts and bibs,” Smith said. “It’s been a bottleneck for us in the past, getting all of that done right before the race. We thought if we do it on a Friday and have it at the visitor’s center, then people could pick them up ahead of time. We are asking our participants to bring school supplies and drop them off. And since we’re having it at the visitor’s center, they can also tour. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Runners can pick up their t-shirts and bibs Friday, Oct. 28 from 3-7 p.m. or on race day — but Smith said the school supplies drive is not limited to people planning to participate in Saturday’s footrace.
“Anyone who wants to come out and drop something off is welcome to,” he said. “They can bring them on Friday during that same time. Or they can bring supplies on the day of the race. We’ll have a place to drop them off there, too. We’re going to evenly distribute the school supplies to all of Hamlet’s schools. Teachers pay so much and have to buy their own supplies, and we’d just like to help out.”
Based on past successes, Smith said he thinks the school supplies drive will follow suit.
“The Hinson Lake 24-hour race, which is another Mangum Track Club race, those donations go to Richmond County Animal Advocates,” he said. “That usually ends up getting about two or three thousand pounds of pet food. The running community does quite well when they come together.”
Smith said one of the 5K’s participants won’t be there in person, but will still run the race. U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Burlingame of the 52nd Theater Gateway Detachment, currently deployed overseas, has already signed up.
“A fellow runner, who is in Kuwait right now, wants to shadow this event,” Smith said. “So we’re going to allow him to run the race while he is deployed in Kuwait, and he will get his medal. He won’t run at the same time, of course, because of the time difference, but he will run the 5K on the same day.”
Burlingame and Smith are both members of the Mangum Track Club.
“He’s an avid runner,” Smith said. “I’ve run races with him before when he was in the states. He actually contacted me through Facebook and said he wanted to run the race, because where he is now, running is all he can do to keep his sanity.”
The Mangum Track Club, Smith said, celebrates its 30th year in 2016. The club has hosted the Seaboard Festival 5K for 27 years.
“This is my second year as race director,” Smith said. “And before me it was Mark Long, and he did it for 25 years.”
Another change, Smith pointed out, is the registration process.
“Everything is online registration this year,” he said. “We’ve done away with the paper registration entirely. It was such a hassle. We want to make sure people know where to go online to register for the race.”
To register for the Seaboard Festival 5K, visit www.seaboardfestival.com/5k/5k or search Seaboard Festival 5K on Facebook for the official event page.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.