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COTR’s Jingle Bell 5K this Saturday

Jerry Hinnen / Sports editor

The holiday season is typically the time of year when big dinners and huddling indoors can lead to a few added pounds. But thanks to Christmas on the River and the Tuscaloosa Track Club, in Demopolis not every holiday event is one your waistline will regret.

That’s thanks to the annual Jingle Bell 5K, scheduled for this Saturday morning, Dec. 3, as part of the Christmas on the River festivities. This year’s race will be the 13th consecutive running of the event, says Demopolis Parks and Recreation’s Johnny Brooker, who’s helping to organize the event. Brooker says that the combination of being able to help out a local charity–proceeds will benefit the area’s D.A.R.E. anti-drug program–and the year-in-year-out allure of a brisk run in Demopolis’s downtown setting has kept the event a success.

“It helps out our local program, so that’s an attraction,” he says. “You’ve also got individuals who just like challenge of running a race, and they’re going to go.”

Many of the runners competing will be attending as part of the Tuscaloosa Track Club’s “Grand Prix” circuit of races across West Alabama. The Tuscaloosa Track Club has been involved with the race’s organization for a number of years and has helped expand the race’s participation to much more than just runners from Demopolis.

“We have a lot of runners from outlying areas, and we do have a handful from here in Demopolis,” says Brooker. “We have several regulars that have been running for 7, 8, 9, 10 years.”

There are also a number of participants that are here for Christmas on the River and find the time (and energy) to run the Jingle Bell 5K as well.

“They come for Christmas on the river and participate while they’re here,” Brooker says.

Assuming that Saturday’s weather provides good racing conditions, the event should meet its average of “80 to 90 runners,” according to Brooker. Most years pre-registered runners make up only one-half or less of the field, and the roster for this year’s race already shows more than 40 names signed up for Saturday. The rest of the field will be filled out the morning of the race.

“A lot of times people will wait and see what the weather’s like. If they send the money in and then don’t race, well, they haven’t gotten anything for their money,” Brooker says. “We’ve got our fingers crossed it won’t be too cold or rainy. We’ve had pretty decent weather before. We’ve never had to cancel or re-schedule.”

On-site registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at City Hall with the race beginning at 9 a.m. in front of the Post Office.

Registration forms can be picked up in Demopolis at the Chamber of Commerce Office, the Parks and Recreation Office, Omni Sports, and The Athletes Foot. A form can also be found at www.tuscaloosatrackclub.com. Registration is $15.

Awards will be given out in several different categories. 1st Place Over-All Male&Female – $75. 2nd Place Over-All Male&Female – $50. 3rd Place Over-All Male&Female – $25. Masters Division Over 40 Male&Female – $25. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards will be given in 13 age categories.

The first 100 participants will receive at t-shirt the day of the race. Contact Johnny Brooker at 334-289-2891 or email at johnny@westal.net for more information.