After a year’s hiatus, a decades-long Tupelo tradition returns this weekend. The Gum Tree 10k and 2k fun run, cancelled last year due to coronavirus pandemic concerns, are back on the books. Hundreds of runners, joggers, wheelchairs and walkers will take to the streets of Tupelo for the 6.2-mile race and the 1¼-mile secondary race; the latter is geared more toward children’s participation but adults are welcome join in the fun. The big race begins at 8 a.m. at Fairpark in downtown Tupelo while the Fun Run kicks off shortly after the big pack heads off into the streets and neighborhoods of the city. Many folks along the route make the race their morning entertainment as they sit in lawn chairs and cheer on their friends and neighbors. Jennifer Martin, race director, said the Gum Tree has “become a more local race” as competing events have been established in surrounding areas. There was a time, back in the 1990s and 2000s when nearly 2,000 runners could compete in the annual event: “We are expecting a pretty good turnout,” Martin said. As of Monday evening, 544 people had preregistered online for the race. Online registration continues at www.tupelorunningclub.net or https://runsignup.com/Race/MS/Tupelo/GumTree10kand2k through midnight tomorrow (Friday). Cost of the 10k is $35 and $15 for the 2k; race day registration, 7-8 a.m. Saturday, will be $45 and $20. In-person registration is also available 1-6-p.m. Friday at Fleet Feet (549 B Coley Road). Race packet pickup will also take place Friday at Fleet Feet and in Fairpark 7-7:45 a.m. A virtual race option for folks who can’t attend the actual race is also available; details are viewable at the above websites. Proceeds from the race benefit the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, a longtime recipient of race benefits; Martin said that in 2019, the most recent year the race was held, the 75-member Tupelo Running Club donated $12,000 to the humane society. A total of 740 runners participated that year. This year, Martin said she expects up to a dozen elite runners – those competitive on a national and/or international scale – to run the race. All participants who preregister for either race will receive an official race shirt available in youth or adult sizes and all finishers of the 10K will receive a medal. Prize money is awarded to the overall top 10K finishers. Awards will be given to age group winners. The 10k runners will be provided a timing chip to attach to their race bib; starting and finishing times will be recorded by computer for accurate timing. The race is sponsored by AT&T as well as a host of others. Food, water and soft drinks will be provided after the race.
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