Runners will have a chance to test their endurance as they trek down flat Delta roads in a race known for its Southern charm and hospitality.

The Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce’s eighth annual Viking Half Marathon & 5K will be held on March 23.

“It is a really great, flat course, and a lot of people get their best time on this course,” said Terry Grantham, the chamber’s office manager. “It brings people in from out of town and gives the local people a chance to race in their own hometown. It’s a great event.”

The event, title-sponsored by Viking Range, will offer two competition options — a half marathon at 13.1 miles or a 5K at 3.1 miles. The half marathon starts at 8 a.m., and the 5K follows with a start time of 8:30 a.m. Both races start on Market Street in front of the Leflore County Courthouse and run east to Lamar Street.

As of Friday afternoon, about 250 participants had already signed up for the event.

“We’re expecting around 400 runners,” said Grantham.

Held in early spring annually when it’s not too hot or too cold, the race consistently brings out good numbers with a combination of out-of-town runners and Greenwood residents.

“We get a good mix with this race,” Grantham said.

New this year is a raffle. A $5 ticket offers a chance to win “The Viking Experience.” The winner will receive a weekend stay at The Alluvian hotel, two seats in a Viking Cooking School class and a spa package for two. The winning ticket will be drawn prior to the start of the half marathon. The winner does not have to be present.

“Tickets can bought at the chamber or from some of our chamber members,” said Grantham. “You can buy a raffle ticket up until the day before the race.”

Participants will have a chance to purchase runner’s socks featuring the event logo, which has a retro look this year. The socks have four channels of air mesh and five channels of padded cushioning on the foot bottom, as well as arch support to reduce fatigue. The fabric is a moisture-wicking blend that keeps feet dry.

The race will include a water stop at each mile of the course. Local volunteers will man the water stops.

Residents who live along the race course can get outside and cheer for the runners or make signs.

“We encourage people to cheer everybody on and maybe make signs of encouragement or funny signs to pep everybody up,” said Grantham. “It really encourages the runners.”

The race will finish on Front Street, where complementary food — a choice of pizza from Domino’s, wraps from By the Bridge Bistro, catfish from Larry’s Fish House and hot tamales from Honest Abe’s Donuts — and refreshments will be available to runners and volunteers. Live entertainment will be provided by Mississippi Marshall.

Half-marathon awards will be presented to the Top 3 overall male and female, top masters male and female, top grand masters male and female and top wheelchair male and female

Awards will also be presented in the half marathon to the three top men and women in the following age groups: 19 and under, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70 plus.

All who complete the half marathon will receive a finisher medal.

The 5K awards will be presented to the Top 3 overall male and female, top masters male and female and top grand masters male and female.

Awards will also be given in the 5K to the Top 3 male and female in the following age groups: 9 and under, 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70 plus.

Last year, the half marathon overall male winner was Clayton Smith of Flora with a time of 1 hour, 27 minutes and 56 seconds, and the overall female winner was Angel Overstreet of Magee with a time of 1 hour, 28 minutes and 30 seconds.

The 2018 5K overall male winner was Lonnie Smith of Greenville with a time of 19 minutes and 31 seconds, and the overall female winner was Emma Overstreet of Magee with a time of 22 minutes and 22 seconds.

Registration fees are $70 for the half marathon and $40 for the 5K until Friday. The race-day registration fees will increase to $80 for the half marathon and $45 for the 5K.

All half marathon participants will receive a tech shirt.

Both races are running events. A participant may choose to walk. The course, however, will close at 11:15 a.m.

Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

Registration and packet pickup will be held at The Alluvian from 1 to 7 p.m. Friday and on race day from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m.

To register for the race or for more information, visit www.vikinghalfmarathon.com.

Those interested in volunteering can call the chamber at 453-4152.

Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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