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Running through the town: Mitchell, Kiwanis introduce new half marathon

Mitchell is introducing a new race on Oct. 14.

In past years, the city and the Kiwanis Club of Mitchell held a 5K zombie run, with runners dressing in Halloween costumes for the race, but it switched to a half marathon this year as participation for the 5K dwindled to less than 40 people last year. Now, the Palace City Kiwanis Half Marathon has garnered nearly 150 people for this year's race.

"We would have liked to get more, but for the first year this is awesome," said Marissa Lee, one of six committee members in charge of the half marathon. "We just kind of want everything to be perfect this first year, so people come back and run it again because we plan on making it a yearly thing."

The race begins and finishes in front of the Corn Palace and includes running through the downtown streets and a lap around Lake Mitchell. It begins at 8 a.m. and has a four-hour race limit, but volunteers will stay at the finish line for five hours.

Lee, a marathon runner herself, has played an instrumental part in putting together the half marathon. With many races in Sioux Falls and the Black Hills, Lee felt it was time for Mitchell to adopt the 13.1-mile race, as well.

She called partnering with Kiwanis a "no-brainer" given their philanthropy efforts in the community and internationally, along with sponsorship ties. All proceeds from the race will go to Kiwanis, too.

"It was a good merger because there's a bunch of (committee members) who have run half and full marathons," Lee said. "And (Kiwanis) has no idea how to run something like this. With our running (experience) and their sponsorship and checkbook, it was perfect."

Local businesses have stepped up in support of the race. The Mitchell Sports and Events Authority was among the biggest financial supporters, Integrated Massage Solutions is offering free massages to runners after the race and Sun Gold Sports provided signs, banners and after-race gift bags. There will also be a post-race party downtown.

"There's going to be music and food, and the massages will be there," Lee said. "Emily Hohn, of Anytime Fitness, will be our DJ, so she'll be playing music from the balcony of the Corn Palace."

While Lee is pleased with the first-year participation, she sees room for growth. Some people have approached her in hopes of a shorter race being available. However for now, that's a potential option for future years.

"Maybe in future years grow it out, and maybe a full (marathon) one day," Lee said. "A 10K, a 5K because some people aren't interested in running a half-marathon, running that far. ... So maybe in the future that will happen, but we wanted to keep it simple for the first year."