CLINE: Runners get to sleep in for Reagan

Tom Mayfield is my kind of road race organizer. As the annual Run the Reagan nears — it’s slated for Feb. 19 — the times Mayfield talks about aren’t for the 5 or 10K, but for 9 and 11 a.m.

Those are the new start times for what’s known as Gwinnett’s premier road race, an hour later than previous years. The event includes competitive 5K and 10K races along with a half marathon and fun run. With the start time pushed back and more time between races, the 5K will start late enough for casual runners to sleep in that Saturday.

“With the first race at 9, nobody will have to set their alarm,” joked Mayfield, in his sixth year organizing the event. “Normally, a road race starts at 8 a.m. and you can’t sleep in. (For this one) you can sleep in and even have breakfast. It’s especially good for (racers) who don’t live in Gwinnett County.”

Mayfield said the change in start times is geared to get more families and groups of casual runners involved. The idea is to make the race, which last year had about 2,500 runners despite icy and snowy conditions, more accessible.

“We really want this to be a family event,” Mayfield said.

The half marathon starts at 9 a.m. followed by the 10K at 9:15 and the fun run at 10:30. That leaves the 5K, which has the majority of runners, starting at 11.

In addition to altering the start times, Mayfield said another addition this year is the “Support Your School” program. A team captain can register a school online, and for every runner who signs up for the 5K, 10K or half marathon at Active.com, $5 will be donated back to the school.

“I think this will really help us bring in some groups this year,” Mayfield said.

Online registration continues through Feb. 15 and the cost is $40 for the half marathon, $25 for the 5 and 10K races, $10 for the fun run and $20 for the 5K untimed run/walk. Proceeds go support the Gwinnett Community Clinic and Young Life.

No conversation with Mayfield about Run the Reagan, scheduled for Presidents Day weekend, is complete without discussing the weather. Because of the February date, the event has had its share of weather issues. But none was worse than last year, when icy roads delayed the start and snow surrounded the parkway.

“It was the worst weather, but for those who came out last year, we did everything to be safe,” Mayfield said. “For everyone who came out, they loved the experience. If you came out and ran it in the snow last year, you’ll never forget it.”

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/toddcline.