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All runners welcome at Eagles' race

As is the case with most local events of its type, Collins Hill's 11th Annual Dennis McCormick Road Race draws a wide variety of runners - or walkers.

Some are out to compete, but most are just out for a good time. The race is even more serious for members of the Eagles' cross country team, and not just because it is the program's main fundraiser.

"It's a determinator for lineups for the coming meets and an official tryout for our teams as well," said Collins Hill cross country coach Andrew Hudson, who will be seen at the finish line of Saturday's race with stopwatch in hand to chart his high school runners.

The event - which includes a 5K race at 7:30 a.m. and a 2K fun run/walk at 8:15 a.m. - typically draws around 350 competitors but more than 400 isn't unusual. It is named in honor of McCormick, a major supporter of Collins Hill youth sports until he passed away prior to the first race in 1997. The race's course begins at Collins Hill, goes down Taylor Road and then weaves through the Richland subdivision. It finishes on the school's track.

"It's a very difficult road race course, the times usually aren't as fast as some road races," Hudson said. "The first mile is downhill, but the second mile is uphill a lot. The last mile is kind of down and flat, but that middle mile is kind of tough. We have a water station set up before that climb. We're probably the only 5K around with a water station in the middle of the course."

Hudson said he didn't know if local coach and renowned runner Tom Kutter, who holds the course record at 15 minutes, 36 seconds, is running this year's race.

Women's course record holder Natalie Florence, a former runner at Collins Hill, lives in Colorado and won't be in the field. Her record time is 17:20. Runners can register for the race today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in front of Collins Hill, or prior to Saturday's race from 6 to 7 a.m. at the same location.

SideBar: Running

' What: 11th Annual Dennis McCormick Road Race

' When: Saturday, 5K at 7:30 a.m., 2K walk/run at 8:15 a.m.

' Where: Collins Hill High School

' Registration: Today, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, 6 to 7 a.m., both in front of the high school