By DANNY P. SMITH
A record number of runners are expected to participate in the 26th annual Frostbite Half-Marathon today.
Normally, the race has a field of 200 to 250 runners, but as of Friday morning, there are 360 who have registered.
The prospect of having more runners has kept Frostbite race director Elaine Schimpf quite busy.
"It's a big difference," Schimpf said. "One year we were hoping to get 300 and we had 299 registered runners so we only needed that one more, but then only like 260 ran. I don't know how many will actually run (today), but we have over 350 registered."
With such a spike in numbers, Schimpf had to order more food, more shirts and get more buses.
Before the runners begin the 13.1-mile course to the finish line at the hospital, they load the buses for a ride to the starting point in Pheba. The buses leave the Oktibbeha County Hospital Healthplex parking lot at noon.
"If you just have 100 extra people at the starting line that's great, but if you've got to move them to the starting line and have to transport them out there, then we had to get more buses so it's a good problem to have," Schimpf said. "It's not a bad problem. It's great for the event because we have more people."
The race, which begins at 12:30 p.m., has participants from as many as seven states.
Starkville's own Todd Hagadone was the top male finisher last year and he owns the course record with a time of 1:09:33.
"He also just ran the Mississippi Blues Half-Marathon and was sponsored by the OCH Regional Medical Center and he won that one," Schimpf said. "It was really good to have a Starkville guy represent us there when they have people from Kenya come to run."
Kelly White finished was the first female across the finish line last year and is expected to compete again this year despite showing pregnant.
The point-to-point course with rolling hills runs south on Highway 389 with a west turn onto Hospital Road for the final one-half mile.
Following the race, there will be a party at Rick's Cafe Americain at 3:30 p.m. The awards ceremony takes place at 4 p.m.
"Every year it just gets bigger and bigger," Schimpf said. "I know we'll have 300 and now we're pushing 400. It's pretty exciting."