Organizers of the Lawrence Half Marathon will ask city commissioners at their meeting tonight to approve closing city streets and to waive charging for support during the April 15 race.
The Lawrence Half Marathon, which includes a 5K race and a 1-mile Fun Run and Walk, replaces the 10-year-old Raintree Run, which mostly was on bike paths in southwest Lawrence. With the new name, event organizers Marcia and Steve Riley have taken to the streets with new routes.
Marcia Riley said she wanted runners to feel "like they've really been someplace" after running the new course.
The route, however, has new costs and complications.
According to a memo from Assistant City Manager Debbie Van Saun, the city is being asked to cover $5,600 in expenses for providing traffic control, medical teams and a Dumpster at Haskell University, where the race will start and end.
In their city request, the Rileys cited the races' "benefit to the entire community." Marcia Riley also said paying the $5,600 would be "prohibitive" and would cut into the proceeds. Marcia Riley said if the city does not commit to covering the expenses, the race would absorb the extra costs.
The half marathon would travel through East Lawrence, down Massachusetts Street and through the Kansas University campus. The route, however, would necessitate closing Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Drive and would require restrictions on Learnard Avenue between 23rd and 19th streets as well as Massachusetts Street between 12th and Sixth streets, Marcia Riley said.
Motorists would share the road with runners on the rest of the route.
"People are going to have to be attentive and watch for the runners," Marcia Riley said.
Runner Tom Kreissler has tested the course with Steve Riley and is excited because the new route creates a more interesting atmosphere than the "sanitized route in west Lawrence."
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"I like it a lot because we have these little landmarks along the way," Kreissler said. "I think people will come away with a better impression of Lawrence and the community."
Kreissler said he thought this would be an opportunity for Lawrence to create a signature event to draw runners to Lawrence.
Rick Marquez, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said his organization supported the race going through town, even if it means shutting down Massachusetts for 30 minutes.
"We asked our members, and everyone seemed to think it was a pretty good idea," Marquez said.
Van Saun said the city has handled similar requests in different ways. A bike race in Lawrence this past spring paid for its expenses, while an event conducted in conjunction with the dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics in 2003 had its fees waived.
Van Saun said the staff had no recommendation whether to absorb the fees.
"Typically on (these kind of events) it's not our recommendation one way or another," Van Saun said.
After covering the approximately $15,000 in expenses, remaining funds are earmarked for charity. The race has generated about $20,000 per year, Marcia Riley said.
This year's beneficiary of the half marathon and 5K is Health Care Access Clinic, which provides health care to those without insurance. The Fun Run and Walk will benefit Gibson Huston, grandson of Raintree Montessori School owners Keith and Lleanna McReynolds, who recently had brain surgery. The school was the races' major beneficiary in the past.