Nature has done its job by providing the fall backdrop along the scenic byway on both sides of the Minnesota River in Belle Plaine.
On Saturday, hundreds of runners clad in colorful running attire will blend in with all the fall color as the second annual Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway Half-Marathon, 5K and Kids races will take place.
According to Carrie Traxler of the Belle Plaine Chamber of Commerce, as of Monday morning there were 199 runners registered for the 5K and 187 for the half-marathon.
Last year’s inaugural races attracted some 500 runners, about 20 percent of whom registered on race day.
The half-marathon will start at 9 a.m., the 5K at 9:20 a.m. and the Kids Run at 11:30 a.m. Award ceremonies will follow each race.
Both the half-marathon and 5K courses are USATF certified and chip-timed.
Last Friday was the last day to register for the races at discounted prices. Race-day registration, which will open at 7:30 a.m. at Court Square Park, will be $55 for the half-marathon and $35 for the 5K. The Kids Run will remain $7.
The 5K race will have a new route that will wind through Belle Plaine. The half-marathon route will once again be run along the fall foliage of the Scenic Byway, including crossing the Minnesota River bridges in Belle Plaine and Blakeley.
Both races will begin and end at Court Square Park (race headquarters) in Belle Plaine.
Also at the park on Saturday will be a craft fair, concessions, bounce house and Lollipop the Clown. At the Vets Club downtown there will be a freewill pancake breakfast.
If the extended forecast holds out, temperatures at race time will be in the mid-40s to lower-50s. Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 60 degrees and a chance of rain.
The chamber of commerce is still in need of volunteers to help operate the races. Call 952-873-4295 if you can help out.
Spaghetti Dinner at Oak Crest Friday
The Belle Plaine High School cross country team, in conjunction with the Scenic Byway races, will host a spaghetti dinner from 4-7 p.m. Friday at Oak Crest Elementary School (not Chatfield as reported last week).
The dinner is a freewill donation and $4 to $7 would be appreciated. Preregistered runners will be able to pickup their race packets at the dinner, which is open to the public. There will also be registration for Saturday’s Kids Run at this time. Proceeds from the dinner will go to the BPHS cross country program.
Sneaker Donations Sought
The Belle Plaine Chamber of Commerce is teaming with GreenSneakers, a non-profit organization that recycles tennis shoes to provide affordable footwear to people in need around the world. Runners and spectators this Saturday are encouraged to bring sneakers to donate to this cause.