Runners, get ready to cowboy up in February for the inaugural Big Hat Half Marathon, benefitting Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center.
Giddyup to registration — the price increases Nov. 15 from $70 to $80.
The 13.1-mile race will begin in Old Town Clovis, travel north along Clovis Avenue, turn east on Shepherd Avenue and then follow the east side of the CA-168 to the finish line on Sunday, Feb. 21.
Race director Scott Newton, owner of Sole 2 Soul Sports running stores, said creating a route that had minimal impact on residents took a lot of thought.
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“When you have a 13-mile circle, it’s hard not to impact people,” he said. “But in our race, no part is landlocked, residents will be able to get in and out of their neighborhoods, and delays are minimal.
“Our traffic company is going to open the route immediately as the last runner passes by.”
While eastbound Shepherd will be closed to traffic, westbound Shepherd will be open during the entire race, which will conclude by 10:30 a.m., Newton said.
“(Motorists) may have to loop around a little bit, but at least you’re not stuck,” he said.
Runners will pass by Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center, the recipient of race proceeds.
What You Need To Know What: Big Hat Half Marathon When: 7 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. Where: Old Town Clovis How much: The registration price of $70 will increase to $80 on Nov. 16, and to $90 on Feb. 1. Register at bighathalf.com.
“We’ve been looking for a pet adoption center to team up with for a long time,” Newton. “We run directly in front of Miss Winkles on our route so that is a good opportunity to highlight their cause at the same time. We’re hoping volunteers will be out with all their animals during the race.”
Registrants will get a custom technical running shirt, a fleece blanket with the race logo and design, an event mason jar, hot breakfast, Top O’The Morn chocolate milk and a finisher’s medal upon race completion.
Those who sign up before Jan. 1 will also get a running hat.
“It’s an all-American, cowboy theme,” Newton said.
Sole 2 Soul events are known for their amenities.
“We give away a lot of stuff to our runners. If we break even at the end of the day, we’ve had a successful event,” Newton said. “We’re really about creating high-quality local events.”
The Big Hat Half Marathon will replace the Heavenly Half Marathon in the three-race Sole Series.
Heavenly, which is usually held in Auberry in February, will likely be rescheduled during a different time of the year, Newton said.
“They’re predicting a big storm this winter and (Auberry) Road is really prone to mudslides,” he explained. “Caltrans is saying ‘what if the road is wet leading up to the race?’ We already block off one lane of the road for the event. What if both lanes are blocked?”
“I don’t want to put on a race and then two weeks out have to pull the plug on it.”
Hell Of A Half, held in August in Exeter, and Judgement Day, held in Bakersfield in October, will go on as usual. Runners who complete all three races receive extra amenities, including a huge medal.
Newton said he thinks February’s Big Hat Half Marathon will bring a lot of people to Clovis.
“I really do like the Clovis route,” he said. “I’ve run it with my staff, at least 20 people, and everyone really enjoys it.”