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First Mitchell half marathon goes off smoothly

It was 3 a.m. Sunday and Marissa Lee and her fellow organizers were setting up the Palace City Kiwanis Half Marathon. Even with snow and below-freezing temperatures, Lee was convinced the inaugural 13.1-mile race would be a success in Mitchell. A...

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Runners leave the starting line at the Palace City Kiwanis Half Marathon Sunday on Main Street in front of the Corn Palace. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

It was 3 a.m. Sunday and Marissa Lee and her fellow organizers were setting up the Palace City Kiwanis Half Marathon.

Even with snow and below-freezing temperatures, Lee was convinced the inaugural 13.1-mile race would be a success in Mitchell. And a few days after the event, Lee said that feeling hasn't gone away.

"I'm still on a high," Lee said. "I'm tired, but I'm flying high."

There was never a chance of calling off the event, Lee said, but some runners traveling from nearby towns were worried about getting to Mitchell on time to pick up their pre-race packets and to check in. Once the event started at 8 a.m., it was a smooth operation, she said.

"It was a case of the whole community coming together," said Lee, outlining help from youth and adults to direct traffic and work the aid stations along the course. "One of the things that resounded from a lot of the runners was how smoothly it all ran and the volunteers and the spectator support we had. ... When you're running 13 miles, it gets a little daunting, so having people supporting the event along the route is a big deal."

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Members of the Palace City Kiwanis Half Marathon's organizing committee had running experience, which was a benefit in setting up the first event. That group was planning to meet again this week to go over a few things they would change or tweak for next year's event.

"We wanted Mitchell and the first half-marathon to be good. If people don't remember it as being a good course to run, or if the event isn't well run, they're not going to come back to a race that's done halfway," Lee said.

The event was the product of the partnership of two groups. Lee and about 200 others are members of Palace City Women Run, which consists of a group of area runners who organize area runs, generally in an impromptu fashion. But Lee noted that the assistance of the Kiwanis Club of Mitchell got the event off the ground, helping to tie together the sponsorships, insurance and the credibility of Kiwanis sponsoring races in other communities.

"And I think it's bigger than just our two groups," Lee said. "We've brought together a lot of good people who helped make this happen."

In all, the event had 184 people sign up, 163 people start the race and 162 people finish it. Lee said it's common for about 10 percent of those who sign up to never make it to the starting line, for whatever reason. About 30 people signed up in the last few weeks before the race.

"You get that at any race, where people don't come," Lee said. "Some of them look at it as a donation. ... And runners are funny. You get a lot of them that are last-minute, too."

The event will return next year as a half marathon again, and plans to expand to the full, 26.2-mile marathon race will likely remain on the backburner for now, Lee said.

"I feel Mitchell is lucky to have something like this in the community," she said.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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