Pick your distance at Ringing In Spring

2013-04-04T17:00:00Z 2013-04-04T19:50:06Z Pick your distance at Ringing In SpringPaul Jankowski Times Correspondent
April 04, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | All runners have fought the urge to simply give up during a race and start walking to the finish line.

And there are the good days, when you feel as if you could keep going farther.

Competitors in Saturday's 19th annual Ringing In Spring will actually be able to decide between running the 5K or the 10K -- during the race.

It's a matter of technology and convenience converging, according to race director Mike Jones.

"We're just trying to make things simple for all of us," Jones said.

As of Thursday, there were more than 1,600 entrants for the two races along with the 5K Prediction Walk. The 5K (3.1 miles) race is more popular, with more than 1,200 registered for that distance.

But if someone registered for the 5K feels good and wants to keep running, they can decide just before the three-mile mark to continue on the 10K course. And if a 10K runner just isn't feeling well, they can simply head to the 5K finish line.

"We'll see how that works out," Jones said.

The event, sponsored by the Valparaiso Family YMCA, begins near the shelter on Cumberland Drive. There will be two finish lines on Cumberland Crossing, one on the north side for the 5K and the other on the south side for the 10K.

Everyone starts together. Only those registered in the team competition must complete their assigned race.

It's all possible due to the electronic results provided by TH Timing. Runners will have computer chips attached to the back of the bib numbers that trigger a start and finish time, regardless of which finish line is crossed.

It's a far cry from the old popsicle-stick method Jones had to use when the Ringing In Spring started in the mid-1990s, when finishers received a stick with a number on it after crossing the line.

"Somebody had to go through manually and write all the numbers down," Jones said.

This is just the second year for the 10K. Last year, 10K runners did two loops of the 5K course which created problems when the 10K front-runners had to maneuver through the crowd of 5K walkers and slower runners.

This year, the 10K course will follow a second 5K loop that will end with the runners on the path on Valparaiso Street and Vale Park Road before heading back to the finish on Cumberland.

Last year's women's champions, Racheal Marchand (5K) and Karen Nagel (10K), are registered to defend their titles. Last year's men's winners, Todd Ptacek of Chicago (10K) and Anthony Schurz of South Bend (5K), were not registered as of mid-week.

Also changing this year – there will be no award's ceremony. Runners will be able to receive a text message with their finish time, overall place and age group finish. Top three finishers in each age group will be able to pick up their awards right away.

The Ringing In Spring was Northwest Indiana's largest race for a couple years until the Valparaiso Turkey Trot took over that title in 2011. Last year, the Ringing In Spring had 1,740 finishers while the Turkey Trot had 3,058.

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