Raintree Run on tap for today

For a change, hot weather could be a factor

Rarely has it rained on the Raintree Run, but the annual mid-April Lawrence road race rarely has been blessed with ideal weather for distance runners.

At least cold shouldn’t be a problem for this morning’s half-marathon and 5K. Humid, warm and windy conditions are forecast, and that combination could make it more difficult to run the 13-miles-plus in a half marathon.

“But who knows what the weather is going to be this time of year?” said meet director Steve Riley.

What Riley does know is that more than 1,000 runners will participate in the fund-raising event for Raintree Montessori School, making it one of the largest road races in Kansas.

The 5K will begin at 8 a.m. and the half-marathon five minutes later. Because of the races, the South Lawrence Trafficway bike-hike path with be closed this morning to joggers and bike riders.

Defending half-marathon champ Phil Hudnall, who has moved from Kansas City to Colorado, won’t be back, so Shadrack Kimeli, last year’s runner-up, is the man to beat.

Hudnall edged Kimeli, a former Kansas State runner, by just four seconds last year. Also returning will be Topekan Dave Halferty who was third.

Hudnall’s winning time last year was one hour, nine minutes and 11 seconds.

“I talked to Kimeli the other day and he said he’s hoping to run a 1:08, but that may be tough,” Riley said.

This year’s runs are dedicated to the memory of Sarah Elbayoumy, a Raintree graduate who died in December. Members of the Free State High choir will be performing in her memory before the race.

Proceeds from the races will be used to replace 37 trees destroyed on the school grounds in last May’s tornado.