It's time to run for the books - for the 12th year. On Saturday, runners in the Sumter Series will leave the Sumter County Library in the Forrest Ray 5K race that takes them through Sumter's historic district.
The race is named for a well-known community leader - and library supporter - who wanted to ensure that the library's services, and especially its books, would always be there for Sumter residents. Forrest Ray was particularly concerned that children should always have the resource, so in 2006 he came up with the idea for the 5K race. He died shortly after that first race, which was a resounding success, and it was named in his memory.
It's not too late to register in advance for the race at the Sumter County Library or the YMCA. Pre-registration is $20, or $25 on the day of the race, with all proceeds benefiting the library. Most are used to purchase materials, particularly books.
Robert Harden, executive director of the library, said he will be running in the race, as he has done for several years.
"It's fun, even though I haven't won," he said, noting that the big rivalry in the race is that for the High School Cup.
"A Wilson Hall runner has won it all but one year," Harden said. The student who finishes first in the 14-to-19-year-old division gets to keep the trophy for a year at his or her high school. Wilson Hall won the cup last year, but past winner Manning High will be working hard to regain the prize. Other awards are those for the overall male and female winners.
First, second and third place will be awarded in the age groups 13 and under, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60 and older.
Law enforcement will be present along the route for traffic control, and volunteers from St. Mark's Methodist Church's Girl Scout troop will staff the water station at Grace Baptist Church on West Calhoun Street. Harden noted that the race route "curves around, so that runners pass it twice."
Runners will start at 8 a.m. at the corner of Law Range and North Harvin Street, proceed to West Calhoun Street, turn left, then right on North Purdy Street, left on Mason Croft Drive, left on Winn Street, left on West Calhoun Street, right on North Harvin Street and left on East Canal Street to the library parking lot.
The race is family friendly, with walkers, strollers and even dogs on leashes welcome, but no bicycles.
Sponsors of the 12th Annual Forrest Ray are the Sumter YMCA, SAFE Federal Credit Union, the Sumter County Library, Liberty Seafood and the Heart of Sumter Neighborhood Association.
For more information, call (803) 773-7273 or visit the website http://sumtercountylibrary.org/ForrestRay5k.htm.