When the annual River City Bank Rome Half Marathon is held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at State Mutual Stadium, an event that expects to draw hundreds of runners that will compete individually in the 13.1 mile race, a half-marathon relay or a 5k run, the winner will once again be Greater Rome’s high school distance teams and the athletes who make up those programs.
“Nearly $15,000 have been given back to the high schools since we started it five years ago,” Jay Stephenson, who founded GoGo Running and has partnered with River City Bank in presenting the Rome Half Marathon, said about what the event is all about.
“River City Bank is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of what has become a great community event,” said Roger Smith, RCB president and CEO, “and benefits and promotes the health of the students in Rome and Floyd County.”
Stephenson points out that even before the runners toe the line, the area’s prep teams and athletes will benefit from hearing another nationally-known standout when the GoGo Running All-Area Cross Country Banquet is held Friday, Dec. 2 at Berry College with U.S. national cross country champion Sarah Hall serving as the guest speaker.
“I’ve know the Halls since 2002,” said Stephenson, noting that Hall’s husband, Olympian Ryan Hall, spoke at the event in 2015. “Sarah is one of the most encouraging people you’ll ever want to meet.”
Sara Hall, a seven-time All-American at Stanford, was the 2012 US National Cross Country Champion and in 2011 won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in the steeplechase.
A professional athlete for Asics and a devout Christian, she has also represented the U.S. at three World Indoor Track and Field Championships and a World Cross Country Championship.
Her appearance as the banquet speaker adds to what is a remarkable list of high-profile and decorated runners who have attended the event, a list that has included Olympians Jim Spivey, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom and Zola Budd.
“Hearing from runners like that – what an incredible education for the kids to get,” Stephenson said, adding that the public is welcome to attend the banquet.
The RCB Rome Half Marathon, Half Relay and 5k will all begin and end at State Mutual Stadium on Saturday, with the 5k starting at 8 a.m. and the Half Marathon and Relay starting at 8:05.
Last year, former Berry College standout Kyle Harris won the Half Marathon covering the distance in 1 hour, 13:16 minutes, while Rome’s Jill Braley captured the women’s title.
For more information on the River City Bank Half Marathon, Half Relay and 5k, and the GoGo Running All-Area Banquet go to www.romehalf.com or contact GoGo Running at The Shoe Box at 706-291-0752.
Keith Conning: Sara Bei/Hall (Asics; Stanford 2005; Montgomery HS, Santa Rosa 2001)