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Run the Reagan expects big crowd

SNELLVILLE - Now in its 13th year, the "Run the Reagan Classic" - a family-friendly party that doubles as the largest road race in Gwinnett - is finally a teenager.

And if preregistration figures are any indication, the race has just hit a growth spurt.

The multi-distance test of cardio endurance is set to be bigger than ever before this year - about 2,000 runners strong as of Thursday.

That eclipses last year's record mark of 1,836, said race director Skip Breeser.

"It's awesome," said Breeser, who organizes about 85 races annually in metro Atlanta. "It's just a really good idea and a really good cause. There's nothing better than a little fitness in Gwinnett County."

Organizers have lofty goals for this year's race, traditionally held the weekend before President's Day (and no matter how wet or nippy, the race is on).

The goal is to raise at least $50,000, said Breeser. That money is then channeled to two deserving charities: The Gwinnett Community Clinic, which provides medical care to residents in need; and the Young Life program, an outreach for troubled Gwinnett students.

The race kicks off with a half-marathon at 8 a.m., followed by a 10K, 5K and what's known as a One Mile Fun Run. Registration fees range between $15 and $50.

Prizes of $300, $150 and $100 are waiting for top finishers in most races. All half-marathon runners who go the distance will receive a finishers medal.

Fear not, procrastinators. Day-of registration begins at 6 a.m. Saturday in Up the Creek restaurant's parking lot, located at the corner of Presidential Circle and Ronald Reagan Parkway.

The race has been a springboard to success for some local athletes.

Tom Kutter, Mill Creek Girls Cross County Coach, won the men's half-marathon in 2007, his second crack at "the Reagan," he said.

He'll be back this year to defend his achievement.

"It's an awesome race, and it's really nice to run so close to home," said Kutter. "I'm really hoping to defend my title."