Runners who have participated in Baldwin's annual Maple Leaf Run in past years can expect a few changes this year.
Dennis Weber, head track and cross country coach at Baker University and organizer of the run, said he has made some change in an attempt to boost participation, which declined from about 160 runners three or four years ago to about 70 runners last year.
This is the first year Weber has been in charge of the race, and he said getting organized had been a challenge but he hoped the changes would be worth the effort.
Shortening the distance of the run from 10 kilometers to four miles, a decrease of about 2 miles.
Changing the day of the race from Saturday to Sunday and the time from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Adding a one-mile fun run-walk.
TOM NOONAN, Baldwin resident who has run in the race four of the eight years he has lived in Baldwin and who will help administer this year's race, said a four-mile event would be competitive enough for serious runners while being recreational enough for less-competitive entrants.
He added that the distance is a bit uncommon but four-mile races do exist.
Day and time of the race were changed, Weber said, because there are usually so many people in Baldwin on the Saturday of the concurrent Maple Leaf Festival that it was difficult for police to stop traffic so runners could pass through town.
Noonan said it also had been difficult for runners to get into town to participate in the race because of the festival traffic.
AS FOR THE fun run, Weber said he wanted to provide an event in which children, senior citizens and people who were not in prime physical condition also could participate.
The fun run-walk will be held at the same time as the Maple Leaf Run.
Participants can register and pay their fee between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning at the Collins Sports Center on the Baker University campus. Fee for the fun run-walk is less than the Maple Leaf Run, but the Run fee includes a T-shirt.
Both events will begin at the sports center. The fun run-walk will be completed around the Baker University campus, while participants in the Maple Leaf Run will run toward the Douglas County Lake on a country road.
"It's a pretty little run," Weber said. "It's definitely a change of scenery from most road races, where they run through the streets."
Weber said he would be willing to change the format of the events again if this year's changes proved unpopular.
He said he expected about 75 runners to participate in the Maple Leaf Run, but he'd like to double that number.
"I'd like to get it up to 150 or so," he said. "That'd be my goal next year."