Kristine Wood was rooted on the porch of The Crossing, cup in hand, long before the popular bar opened Sunday morning.
Wood, a Kansas University sophomore from Wayzata, Minn., wasn't waiting to fill up on beer, though. A drink from Starbucks was all she needed while waiting for a friend to get to mile six of the Lawrence Half-Marathon.
"I need to give him my support," Wood said. "He was a little anxious about this."
By 8:30 a.m., the first group of runners was streaming past the bar and down the 12th Street hill on the way to South Park and the second half of the 13.1 mile race.
Around town Sunday morning, Wood was just one of many people staking out spots along the race's new course, which wound through city streets and the KU and Haskell Indian Nations University campuses past local landmarks. One woman at the corner of Seventh and Massachusetts streets - perhaps not quite awake yet - even confused eventual second-place finisher Rikki Hacker of Kansas City, Mo., with his long hair, for someone of the opposite sex.
Overall, though, runners said they were quite pleased with the support they got along the route from the people of Lawrence.
Jason McCullough, of Hays, said he saw quite a few fans as he ran, leading virtually the entire way. McCullough came in first with an unofficial time of 1:10:16.
"Every couple blocks had someone. There were people yelling at you and encouraging you," he said.
McCullough, who ran in the Raintree Run in 2001, said this course was a major upgrade over the old Raintree route. The Lawrence Half-Marathon replaced the Raintree Run this year with a new course and a new beneficiary - the Health Care Access Clinic.
Nikki King, the clinic's director, said this race would make a huge difference in the clinic's operations.
"For comparison, our last fundraiser made $9,000. We had a big cut in our budget last summer, and this will help us fill that hole," King said.
Marcia Riley, who with her husband, Steve, directs the event, said she had expected more than 2,000 participants in the half-marathon and 5K run. While Steve was somewhat less optimistic, Marcia Riley said she fully expected the race to generate $38,000 for the clinic.
She said that getting spectators out along the route was one of the most important things to ensure the future success of the race.
"Spectators make it fun. They make the difference with races people want to return to. The food and the prizes are important, but the people make the difference," she said.
Melissa Todd, the first woman to cross the finish line, echoed that sentiment.
"There were fans in lawn chairs throughout the race," said Todd, of Manhattan. "It was absolutely great; you never felt like you were out there in the middle of nowhere."
That had always been the biggest complaint about the Raintree Run and was something the Rileys wanted to change - but it didn't come easily.
Riley said there were more than 200 volunteers and 20 to 30 police officers out on the course starting before 8 a.m. in order to make sure the runners stayed on track and were safe from motorists.