In six years, Susan Melgares has seen the Poyntz Avenue Mile road race grow.
On Friday, she hopes cooler temperatures and a strong field of competitors will give the community a fun night down a mile-long strip of Manhattan’s business district.
“We’ve had some years where it’s been pretty hot and humid,” she said Thursday. “I think tomorrow will be some great weather and it will allow people to run some great times.”
The seventh annual event is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. with the Citizen’s race, designed for women who will run a mile in 6:00 or slower, or men who run a 5:00 or slower mile.
Following the completion of that event, there will be a Women’s Elite race and then a Men’s Elite race.
The women’s race will feature names like former Kansas State track and field athlete Trisha Culbertson, and two-time Kansas City Marathon winner Julie Thornton. The men’s race will feature 2011 winner Tim Testa, along with Manhattan High runners Chris Melgares, Michael Melgares and Isaiah Koppes.
The men’s race will also feature a few names from the Kansas City Smoke — a USATF Elite development club — including 2013 USATF 1,500-meter champion Mike Hernandez and Randy Wasinger, a national champion in the men’s over-35 category of the mile.
“This year the numbers are not necessarily going to be up, but I think the quality is going to be really high,” Melgares said. “That’s something we consider along with the numbers, getting some good quality races. Both the men’s and women’s races are going to be pretty quick this year.”
The race started June 11, 2008, the same night Manhattan was struck by a tornado. The idea for the event came from an experience Melgares had while she was in college.
“When I was at Emporia State, they did a Commercial Street mile just one year and I thought it was so fun, and that was kind of my beginning of this,” she said. “I think it’s such a cool opportunity and our main street is becoming even better all the time. I look to grow this and I’m hoping it becomes even more of an event, including the public spectators.”
The registration deadline for the event is tonight at 11:59. Runners can still register at LetsGoRun.com. Registration is $25 plus an additional $2.50 sign up fee.
The race itself starts near City Park, and ends just in front of the Manhattan Town Center. Runners then gather at AJ’s Pizzeria for an awards ceremony. The fastest race was run by former K-State track and field athlete Armando Del Valle, who finished in 4:07 in 2012.
The event benefits the MHS cross country teams, and Melgares said it’s a fundraising opportunity that benefits her team in numerous ways.
“It’s huge with budgets and everything,” she said. “This makes a big difference in how we’re able to provide food after races during the season and then our Joplin trip, an overnight trip that we just couldn’t do on the budget we have. It allows them to have some opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”