Last year's Raintree Run lured around 700 participants. This year's Raintree field will feature closer to 1,000 runners.
What's the reason for the significant increase?
"There's lot of good food afterward," race director Steve Riley quipped.
Yes, the Raintree Run -- a half-marathon and a 5K, plus a mile fun walk-run -- does feature a post-race food fest courtesy of Einstein Bros. bagels, Community Mercantile and Raintree Montessori School families.
However, the course is a lure, too. Both the 5K (8 a.m. start) and the half-marathon (8:05 a.m. start) will be on the Southwest Trafficway bike-hike path.
"People really like that Trafficway path," Riley said.
The bike-hike path is paved, scenic and relatively flat with the exception of an uphill at three miles and a downhill at 4.2 miles in the half-marathon.
The races will begin and end at Raintree School, 4601 Clinton Parkway. The half-marathon will follow the Trafficway path to Clinton overlook and back all the way to Iowa Street before turning back again and ending at the school.
Another lure, Riley said, is the format.
"The half-marathon is a challenge the serious runners like," he said, "and the non-serious runners look on it as something to try to finish."
Rusty Collins of Overland Park is the defending champion in the men's half-marathon, but he will enter the 5K this year.
Erica Larson won the women's half-marathon last year, but she now lives in Los Alamos, N.M., and won't be back.
The Raintree Run has probably benefitted from not having to compete with the Kansas Relays the last two years, but there are no plans to change the date when the Relays return next year.
"This weekend seems to work best for us," Riley said. "There could be a problem with motel rooms, but if we delay it a week we'd be competing with the Trolley Run in Kansas City, and that's really big."
Registration and packet pick-up will begin at 7 a.m. today. The one-mile fun run-walk will start at 10:30 a.m.
Participants and spectators are urged to park at either Southwest Junior High, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church or Alvamar Racquet Club. Shuttle vans will operate continuously from those locations to Raintree School.
The Trafficway bike-hike path will be closed to the public during the races.
-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.