KINGSPORT — Race organizers have high hopes that the 21st running of the Indian Path Medical Center & Sun Trust Bank Crazy 8s 8K Run next month will boast the strongest field of elite runners in recent memory.
The fact that four past champions have already committed to run in the July 17 race bodes extremely well for the quality of this race.
“I can’t remember a time when we’ve had four past champions in one race. That’s pretty incredible,” said Event Co-Director Hank Brown in Wednesday’s news conference. “I think we’re going to have a fast race. And hopefully, with good weather, we could see a push for the world record.”
Kenyan Simon Chepriot will return to defend his 2009 Crazy 8s title. In addition, past champs and fellow countrymen Simon Ndirangu (2007) and Julius Kiptoo (2006), as well as Ethiopian Alene Emera, will return to Kingsport’s candlelit figure-eight race course.
Chepriot’s winning time of 22:20.7 stood as the fastest 8K time recorded last season — preserving the Crazy 8s’ claim of being the “World’s Fastest 8K.” Emera logged the second-fastest time in Crazy 8s history. His 22:03.4 in 2001 barely missed unseating Peter Githuka’s world record 22:02.2, set during the 1996 version of the event.
The four returning champions could encounter a deeper and more challenging field. This year’s race will run a week later than last year’s Crazy 8s, avoiding a scheduling conflict with the Boilermaker 15K and 5K Road Races held in Utica, N.Y. Some elites who were forced to choose between the two events last year now have the option of competing in both.
“We’ve already got quite a few runners calling us. Of course, I never really count them as committed until I get their plane ticket and all that stuff. But I’ve got a lot on my list, probably 30 or 40 already,” Brown said.
All are no doubt hoping to make a run for the money. Gastroenterology Associates will again sponsor the $5,000 Men’s Dash for the Gold — the prize for the first male to cross the finish.
There are other juicy carrots. The Regional Eye Center will once again offer a $10,008 bonus for any male or female runner who breaks Githuka’s world record. The Regional Eye Center will also continue to award the unique “8-Man” medals to the first 2,300 finishers — a very popular addition to last year’s race.
The Crazy 8s continues to be associated with Kingsport’s Fun Fest, traditionally serving as the first major event of the week-long summer celebration. Crazy 8s activities will begin Friday, July 16 with the Lively State Farm Crazy Mile and K-8s Dog Walk, both of which will take place prior to the start of the Fun Fest Parade in downtown Kingsport.
Crazy 8s activities on Saturday include the McDonald’s of Greater Kingsport Little 8s Youth Field Day, Special 8s and the United Way of Greater Kingsport Healthy Lifestyles Expo.
Neil’s Walk, a 3K health walk sponsored by Cardiovascular Associates, Holston Medical Group and Eastman Credit Union, will take place just prior to the big race. Last year more than 800 walkers participated in Neil’s Walk, raising $11,500 for the Neil Danehy Heart Foundation.
Other sponsors of this year’s Crazy 8s weekend include Performance Medicine, FootRx of Johnson City, Bill Gatton Honda, Food City, Salsarita’s, Culligan, Charter Communications, Oak Hill Cemetery, Dashboard Audio, John Mather Dentist, Mountain Region Family Medicine, UBS Financial Services, Hope Haven and First Bank and Trust.