Stratton Faxon Half Marathon ready to take off
The 33rd-annual Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon is ready to go.
With the 2012 overall winner back in the field, plus more than 15 other elite runners and nearly 5,000 others from around the world, Sunday's race will be the largest to date.
Between the 5,000 half-marathon runners, and 1,500 runners in Saturday's 5K, more than 6,500 racers will compete this weekend. The race is also sold out.
"We're thrilled at the response from the running community and the long-term growth of the event," race director Steve Lobdell said in a release. "In 1981 our inaugural race had 200 runners; we couldn't have dreamed the race would grow to 6,500 runners and sell out before the event."
Sunday's Half Marathon will start at Fairfield's Jennings Beach at 8:30 a.m. and span 13.1 miles scattered between Fairfield, Southport and Westport before looping back to Jennings for the finish. The race will enter Westport for the first time in 12 years, spanning into the town for approximately three miles.
"We're going to work hard with Westport to make it a positive experience for everybody involved," Lobdell told the Westport News in March. "We want to be part of the community."
Ethiopian Tesfaye Girma, who claimed last year's race by one second, will be challenged by three countrymen and four Kenyans for this year's title. Kenya's Amos Sang, and Ethiopian Girma Bekele, who runs a sub four-minute mile, will headline the crew looking to take Girma's title.
Burlington-native Mary Currier is the only entered female who has won the race -- she claimed the overall title in 2000. Vermont-native Heidi Westover was the second-place female finisher in 2009, but Askale Merachi and Tigest Tufa, both of Ethopia, will likely press the Americans.
Merachi is the favorite to claim this year's women's race.
Saturday's 5K will start at 8:30 a.m. as well. Both races will feature post-race parties at Jennings Beach.